Safariland, a BAE Systems company, today inducted Officer Kyle Russel into its “Legion of Life” program that recognizes and honors officers who have been saved in the line of duty while wearing one of the company’s life saving products. Russel was wearing Safariland body armor when he was shot in the chest during a routine traffic stop outside of Washington, D.C. on September 23, 2008.
During the incident, Russel and his partner pursued a speeding car that was swerving wildly and forcing other vehicles off the road. Eventually, Officer Russel and his partner caused the driver to pull over on the shoulder of Highway 395 outside Washington, D.C. Officer Russel approached the vehicle thinking the driver was either highly intoxicated or having a seizure.
When he looked into the vehicle, Russel found the driver with blood on his face and nauseated. After being asked if he was okay, the driver grabbed a .45 caliber pistol that was hidden under his leg and shot Russel in the chest. After being struck by the round, Officer Russel was able to take cover behind a guardrail before the driver sped away. He then reported to his dispatcher that he had been shot, indicating, “I’m okay. I think the vest got it.”
“There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this vest saved my life that night,” said Russel. “I can’t tell you how grateful I am to the people at Safariland. They are the reason I am standing here today.”
Since its inception in 1972, Safariland’s Saves Program, “Legion of Life,” has honored more than 1,800 officers saved while serving their communities. In addition to inducting them into an elite group of officers, the “Legion of Life” program educates and encourages officers to properly employ their safety equipment.
“We are honored to be working with the Alexandria Police Department and we are extremely happy we are able to recognize Officer Russel today as Save number 1835,” said Ed Hinchey, Safariland’s “Legion of Life” liaison and himself a “Legion of Life” member. “Nothing reflects the spirit of Safariland and its people more effectively and directly than the ‘Legion of Life’. Every product bearing the Safariland name, whether it’s body armor or an Automatic Locking System holster, is geared towards one important goal – saving lives.”