Masonic Lodge donates gun locks for deputies
The Philadelphia Masonic Lodges have donated roughly $3,000 to the Sheriff's Office for gun locks that give deputies a safe and accessible place to secure their rifles in their vehicles.
Sheriff Eric Clark said that the weapons are automatic AR-15 patrol rifles and previously had to be secured in a trunk or rear compartment or were left on the passenger seat of the vehicle.
“This is a key item in the safety of our patrol officers,” Clark said. “We look at this as another tool in their belt.”
Clark said that the locks are installed in the center console of his vehicles between two seats over the driver’s right shoulder and feature a secret latch that the officer can easily reach to grab the weapon.
“This gives officers the opportunity to keep these rifles at arms reach,” Clark said.
Clark said that he would like to have a total of fourteen or fifteen gun locks to fully outfit his patrol fleet but that these six would ensure that his night shift is covered.
Members of Lodge 93 presented the funds to Clark and a deputy at the Neshoba County Coliseum on Jan. 6.
Clark said that the gun locks have been purchased and installed and are currently in use by deputies.
Grover Vining, a long time lodge member, said that the Lodge is always looking for ways to support the community. He said that fundraising opportunities have been sparse during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic but that they were able to scrape together $2,800 from their fundraising budget and individual donations from Lodge members to purchase and install the six gunlocks for the Sheriff’s Office.
Vining said he got the idea after he read in the Democrat that Clark was requesting an amount of money Vining knew his organization could raise to rent cameras to try to catch illegal dumpers in the county.
“When we see a need we like to see what we can do to support the community,” Vining said. “We are not overloaded with money and funds but we want people to know that the lodge here wants to do what we can in the community and make things a little better.”
Vining said he has known Clark for some time — they were neighbors when Vining moved to the county in 2004 — and went to his friend to see if they could help out in any way.
“I called Eric and said what can we do to help you,” Vining said.
Other programs they try to regularly help with have included sponsoring ball teams with the parks commission, donating goods to the Neshoba Elementary food pantry and helping out with Open Arms where they have helped hand out groceries and cooked meals.