April 23, 2022

How police agencies can assist Ukraine


Dear PERF members,

Like you, I continue to be horrified by the news coming out of Ukraine.

A day doesn’t go by that we don’t see fresh images of innocent civilians killed, families traumatized, and entire communities devastated by indiscriminate bombings. But every day, we also see soldiers, police officers, and ordinary citizens stepping up and courageously fighting to save their country.

On Tuesday, the New York Times published an interview with Ukrainian soldiers pinned down in the city of Mariupol. “We’re surrounded; they’re bombing us with everything they can,” one soldier said. “Our only plan is for the blockade to be broken by our forces so that we can get out of here.”

Ukraine has become a scene of tragic death and inspiring profiles in courage at the same time.

I’ve written about Ukraine in two previous editions of Trending. One column recounted the text messages I exchanged with a retired Ukrainian police official I met 16 years ago who described what life was like on the ground in the early days of the Russian invasion. In the second column, I marveled at the courage – the “grace under pressure” – displayed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

I’m revisiting the issue of Ukraine today, but this time with a message of hope and a call to action.

Since the invasion began, I’ve been impressed not only by the Ukrainian resistance to the invasion, but also by some of the international efforts to support the Ukrainian people. In particular, it’s heartening to see law enforcement agencies across the U.S. and internationally provide support in any way they can.

But I realize many police leaders may not know how to provide assistance, so I wanted to find an organization that might be able to use support from PERF members.

This week I spoke with Wayne Zinn, who leads international operations for Spirit of America, a non-profit organization based in the DC area. In the months since Russia invaded Ukraine, Spirit of America has been helping Ukrainians defend their country by providing them with body armor, first aid kits, and other nonlethal military supplies. They are currently sending a plane full of equipment to Ukraine every 7-10 days.

Spirit of America is a mission-driven and highly reputable organization. They enjoy a top, 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, the world’s largest independent evaluator of non-profit organizations. And in recent months, Spirit of America has been profiled by CBS News, the New York Times, and Stars and Stripes.

Wayne told me that what they really need is Level III+ high threat and Level IV ballistic body armor, as well as Level III ballistic helmets. The equipment can be used but needs to be serviceable. Thermal and night-vision equipment is also in high demand and would be greatly appreciated.

These donations should be sent to:

Regulus Global

Attention: Spirit of America

1528 Taylor Farm Rd., Suite 105

Virginia Beach, VA 23453

If you have questions about what can be sent, feel free to contact Wayne at [email protected].

And if you want a real-world example of the difference these donations can make, check this out. Earlier this week, a firefight erupted in the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine. A Ukrainian defender was outfitted with protective gear (including a helmet) provided by Spirit of America. It’s likely that the helmet (pictured above) saved his life.

Thanks for any help you can provide, and please share this information with others you think may be able to assist.

The atrocities in Ukraine demand a global response. This is one concrete step that PERF members can take to do our part.


Chuck Wexler