POLICE Magazine

JUL 2017

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34 POLICE JULY 2017 DEPUTY JOE TORTORELLA, NIAGARA COUNTY (NY) SHERIFF'S OFFICE ARMOR EXPRESS HALO II O n the afternoon of April 17, 2015, Deputy Joe Tortorella of the Niagara County (NY) Sheriff's Office was dispatched to check out a 911 hang-up call in Wheaton, NY. When he arrived and knocked on the front door, it took a long time for someone to answer it. A 25-year-old man finally opened the door a crack and said he'd be just a minute. Right before the door closed, Tortorella heard a woman moaning as if in pain. Something was going on, but he wasn't yet sure what. When the man didn't return to the door, Dep. Tortorella walked back to- ward where his patrol car was parked near the house, and was confronted by the same man, Duane Bores Jr., whose hands were covered in dried blood. Tor- torella drew his gun and told Bores to get on the ground, but the man would not comply and instead began shooting at the deputy. Bores took cover behind Tortorella's patrol vehicle as the two ex- changed gunfire. e deputy took cover behind a tree and the fire- fight continued. Tortorella worried that Bores was planning to attack the elementary school positioned directly next to the Bores residence. So he positioned himself between it and the shooter, and radioed dis- patch to lock down the school, where his children were students and his wife was teaching. Struck multiple times, Bores retreated into the house, where his two parents lay wounded. Bores had apparently shot them both through the mouth over a financial dispute. Both were seriously injured, but narrowly survived. Bores shot and killed himself before responders entered the home. Tortorella was struck in his ballistic vest during the shooting. He took a round to the upper chest right near his heart, but the Armor Express Halo II vest he was wearing stopped the round. "I wouldn't be talking to you if I hadn't had my vest on," says Tortorella. He had been wear testing the Armor Express Halo II ballistic vest and decided to keep using it on duty after the test was over because he liked it so much. He was glad he was wearing it that day. Tortorella has always been a big proponent of wearing ballistic vests on duty, but he now has a greater appreciation for the people who make them. "I've gotten all these awards, but probably the greatest thing I've done besides having my kids and family, is I was able to go to the Armor Express factory in Michigan and meet the people who made my vest," Tortorella says. "It brought out more emotion than I can describe." W earing a ballistic vest can seem like a chore, as they can be hot and constricting even with ad- vanced technology that enhances comfort while maintaining effectiveness. But a vest can't protect you if it's not on, and you never know when you'll need this life-saving protection. Officers who have survived shooting incidents thanks to their vests are quick to share this wisdom. And they want every officer to believe it and live it. Here are the stories of several officers who lived to tell the tale because they wore their vests. PHOTOS: COURTESY OF JOE TORTORELLA BODY ARMOR Saves Lives THESE OFFICERS' STORIES OF SURVIVAL ILLUSTRATE WHY IT'S SO IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS WEAR A BALLISTIC VEST ON DUTY. MELANIE BASICH

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