Sarasota sheriff sending ballistic helmets to Ukraine

As harrowing images from Ukraine flash across TV, they are catching the attention of the world.

"Just an absolute tragedy. It will probably get worse before it gets better," said Sheriff Kurt Hoffman.

The Sarasota County Sheriff's Office and Sheriff Kurt Hoffman wanted to do their part to help protect those fighting for Ukraine. They say over 340 of their ballistic helmets have been packed up and will soon be on their way.

"We knew we had over 300 of these that were set to be destroyed, we thought this was a good way to divert those and help those people," Hoffman said. "They specifically asked for these. We hope it does help them."

He explained that under manufacturer standards, they are rotated every five years and would otherwise be destroyed.

"These are in our inventory that our folks in patrol have access to. They expire from time to time and we have to get rid of the older ones. Still good otherwise," he said.

Last year, Sheriff Hoffman helped refugees from Afghanistan make it out of their country and to America.

Now he's answering a call from the Department of Defense and State Department. They've asked law enforcement agencies to help get equipment donated that would "help the Ukrainian people push back against this violence and protect their citizens."

Hoffman said the Department of Defense hopes to supply more than 50,000 helmets and other law enforcement supplies in the coming weeks.

"When you think about our country and having the democracy and freedoms that we’ve had for over 250 years, to see another country fight for what we’ve already fought for and in some countries take for granted, it’s emotional to watch those folks with handguns and rifles and some wearing ballistic helmets similar to this in the street fighting, toe to toe with the Russian aggression," he said.

The sheriff vetted those involved in getting the gear to Ukraine. Authorities said the donations will be distributed to citizens fighting in the streets.

Gear that was once used to protect deputies will soon be used to defend the freedom of Ukraine.

"Maybe in some small part we will be able to help hold the line in Ukraine and they’ll be able to push back this aggression and lives will be saved," Hoffman said.