Kindness of a Cincinnati Police Officer Spreads to South Dakota When Most Needed

Hanson County, South Dakota Deputy Matthew Huber uses his new Lit LED vest to be seen on rural roads and I-90

The patented Lit vest is saving the lives of first responders around the nation.

Rural Officers Get Lit for Night Duty

I was determined that no more first responders were going to perish needlessly because they could not be seen at night”

— Officer Don Campbell

CINCINNATI, OH, US, October 3, 2023 / — When Hanson County, South Dakota, Deputy Sheriff Thomas Brown scrolled through Tik Tok one day, his eyes fixated on a police video. It depicted Cincinnati area police officer Don Campbell demonstrating how his invention, the Lit LED glowing vest, was saving the lives of first responders across the country. It is now used in 15 states.

The image conjured up the helpless feelings Brown could not shake from the suicide of his youngest son and the recent death of his oldest son, a sheriff’s recruit, just weeks away from entering the law enforcement academy so he could follow in his father’s footsteps.

Needless death. How could Brown shield his family from another heartache? He and his fellow Sheriff’s Deputies had already had close calls by vehicles at night more times than he could count.

“We are a small department covering 362 miles in South Dakota, explains Brown. “There is one other deputy and a sheriff. That’s it. I-90 runs through our county so whenever a state trooper is not available, one of us goes, even on our days off, to help where we can.

“I thought about the lack of lighting on our country roads and on I-90. Then I felt compelled to contact Officer Campbell in Cincinnati to learn more. I told him I would get a Lit vest in a heartbeat, but our small department didn’t have the funds. Inside me, I didn’t want my wife or colleagues to experience another tragedy.”

Officer Don Campbell was deeply moved by Deputy Sheriff Brown’s candor about recent events. He explained that it was the death of a police colleague directing traffic one night that compelled him to hole up in his basement until he found the perfect solution.

“I was determined that no more first responders were going to perish needlessly because they could not be seen at night,” says Campbell. “All the standard-issue vests did not illuminate faces and the space around officers. In fact, the lights from the cruisers and any lamp posts obscured sighting of officers until it was too late. So I developed an LED vest that sheds green light from the inside of the vest to the outside. It is short enough for officers to grab side arms, but bright enough to be seen from over a mile away.”

Campbell received a U.S. patent for the Lit Vest and started his quest to get it in the hands of first responders. Then Brown called.

“I was so touched by Tom Brown’s journey that I sent him a complimentary vest right away,” says Campbell. “His story took me back to why I invented the vest in the first place: to make sure that no one else perishes at night because they are doing their duty for the public good.”

“Don Campbell’s generosity was absolutely overwhelming. I thought we could hold some additional fundraisers so that we could buy vests for the rest of the department. Then an anonymous donor bought them.”

The donor turned out to be his mother.

Only a mother’s love could ensure that her son and his colleagues would be protected as best as possible as they worked tirelessly on behalf of the tight knit community of Alexandria, South Dakota. Its population is 700. The county has 3,000.

Brown also serves as volunteer assistant fire chief. As soon as he brought in his new vest, the fire chief ordered 15 for the entire department.

The ball kept rolling when Brown and Deputy Matthew Huber saved a young woman walking in the middle of I-90. He recalls, “One of the local tow truck companies was out that rainy night to recover a vehicle on I-90. The driver saw the glow of my vest from over a mile away. The tow truck driver was so stirred by the incident that he immediately obtained vests for his colleagues.”

“First responders take a lot of risks for the publics’ safety, especially at night,” says Campbell. “Being seen in darkness is just one more way that we can protect them, especially when they patrol 362 square miles in rural South Dakota.”

For additional information visit or #bestdamnvest on Facebook and Tik Tok.

Laura Cook Kroeger
Communications Project Partners
+1 513-236-7864
[email protected]
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Originally published at

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