Bulletproof vest saves life of reserve police officer
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
A reserve officer working for Somerville Police Department narrowly escaped death Saturday evening when he was struck in the chest by a .22 caliber bullet from a handgun.
His bulletproof vest protected him.
The reserve officer, one of three assigned to Somerville PD, was hit by the bullet as he and a Somerville police officer and Morgan County Sheriff's deputy were chasing Scott Bartlow, 32, of Athens. After seeing the flash of Bartlow's gun, the deputy returned fire. Bartlow fell and was later declared dead at the scene by Morgan County Coroner Russ Beard.
The incident occurred at approximately 7 p.m. near an empty store building across the street from the old courthouse.
The identity of all three officers was withheld by the Morgan County Sheriff's Department pending a grand jury hearing. Investigation of the incident was turned over to the Limestone County Sheriff's Department.
The deputy was helping Somerville officers clear up an earlier incident when they spotted the assailant and gave chase after he ran, according to Chief Morgan County deputy Michael Corley. He said a reserve officer serves as the eyes and ears for a regular law enforcement officer.
"They are trained in the use of firearms and carry a gun but don't have the power to issue citations or make arrests," he said.
Chief Deputy Corley said a background check revealed that Bartlow had a criminal record in Illinois.
A spokesperson for the town of Somerville said both reserve and regular police officers are required to wear bulletproof vests while on duty. No such requirement exists for county deputies. However, Chief Deputy Corley said some reserve deputies have vests that were passed down to them from regular deputies.