In the state of Iowa, bikers are required to have a headlight and flashing taillight on their bikes to make them visible to vehicles. Runners and walkers have no requirements when walking in the dark, which makes it potentially dangerous for pedestrians. Wilton Chief of Police Tim Leathers says he was driving to work on a Monday morning and turned a corner where two women were walking.
“They were wearing dark clothes. I very easily could have hit them,” Leathers said.
The Wilton PD has had hundreds of yellow safety vests in storage for years and could not find anything to do with them. They were considering throwing them out when Officer Leathers thought, maybe he could give them to people in the community. They started putting vests in all of their squad cars so officers can give them out as they feel needed. They are also keeping them in stock at the police station for people to pick up.
They began giving away the vests on Tuesday, October 17 and within two days had already given away over 70 vests. Officer Leathers has since seen people throughout the town wearing the vests when they are walking, biking, or even riding mopeds.
“This is our job as law enforcement; we see an issue and we do what we can to fix it,” he said.
Leathers has since ordered 100 more vests and is having some donated so the police department can continue distributing vests for as long as people continue to want them. The vests are free to anyone and can be picked up at the Wilton Police Station.