MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (WPRI) — Earlier this year, the Middletown Police Department became the hub for donations of surplus tactical gear to send to Ukraine.
The donations include 247 body armor units and 34 helmets from police departments in Cranston, East Providence, Jamestown, Johnston, Middletown, Narragansett, North Kingstown, North Smithfield, plus Brown University Police and the Rhode Island State Police.
Police were able to ship the equipment overseas through state Sen. Lou DiPalma, who connected with a company that offered to send it at no cost.
The gear has a shelf life of about five years, according to police, but can still be used to an extent.
“In the lack of nothing, these at least provide some protection,” DiPalma said.
DiPalma said he started reaching out to various people and companies, and heard back fairly quickly.
“The person got back to me that afternoon and said, ‘You get them to me, we’ll get them shipped there.’ I said, ‘OK,'” DiPalma recalled. “I’ll call them angel shippers.”
DiPalma said the so-called angel shipper didn’t want to be named, preferring to be kept anonymous.
“Got to believe this is at least providing some benefit to what’s happening,” DiPalma said. “We all can play a part, even though it’s tens of thousands of miles away… little old Middletown, Rhode Island, little old Rhode Island, and many towns of Rhode Island is playing a part in trying to help a global situation.”
DiPalma said it’s not clear if the supplies were used, but he received confirmation the shipment of gear arrived in Kyiv on May 1.