What to Look for in Ballistic Shield Technology
October 12, 2023
By: Zach Madden
Five Non-negotiables for Selecting Protective Gear for Everyday Patrol & Active Shooter Response
by Sergeant Kevin Hurd of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, Tennessee
With today’s lighter, more flexible to use, and even more cost-effective for officers who need immediate protection in volatile situations.
Approaching the Unknown with the Confidence of Mobile Ballistic Protection
As every officer knows, a routine call can escalate into a dangerous situation in a matter of minutes. The reality is our officers never know what’s beyond that closed door. With patrol officers most often responding first to a scene, the need for instantly accessible protection is paramount.
In Washington County, our deputies found this out when they responded to a call that required support to subdue and apprehend a homicidal and suicidal suspect only one day after our department issued Bonowi™ FlexShield Ballistic Shields from Stop Stick Tactical Protection. Situations like this underscore why making the right choice in mobile ballistic protection for all patrol officers must be a priority.
Top Priorities in Selecting the Latest Ballistic Protection
Here are the top product qualities that our department identified when considering ballistic shields—and how technology innovations have answered our call:
- Advancements in materials and design have resulted in high-performance shields that are still lightweight and even foldable, making them easy to transport in patrol vehicles and ideal for first responders, school resource officers and law enforcement. Portability was a primary consideration for our department when we adopted the ™ FlexShield Ballistic Shield for all of our patrol cars and school officers. Prior to the FlexShields, our officers had to retrieve a shared, large ballistic shield from the department before use, which added to response time.
- Having a ballistic shield that is compact enough for an officer to walk through doorways, even in small mobile homes, and maintain protection is extremely important. The FlexShield, for instance, measures only 25 by 25 inches, but still covers vital artery areas. The shield also weighs only 25 pounds with Level III rifle protection ballistic plates in place. The compactness, weight, and ease of movement when deployed were key considerations in our ballistic shield choice.
- The best ballistic shields use developments in technology to create innovative designs. FlexShield includes a feature where the frame of the shield can be inflated using a built-in CO2 cartridge and patented internal AirFrame™ to become a rigid shield. Or it can be used as a wedge shape without inflation and without sacrificing any ballistic protection. One of the best things about FlexShield is that it doesn’t lose any of its ballistic capabilities if you don’t inflate it.
Our deputies share that they like the option to simply grab their FlexShield from the car, which immediately provides that extra Level III protection when they need it. With this flexibility, a mobile ballistic shield like FlexShield can be used at traffic stops, building clearance, and when serving high-risk warrants—virtually any time an officer faces an unknown or may face an active shooter situation. The FlexShield can also be linked with one or two additional shields for extended protection or for use as a stretcher.
Ease of Use
- Using the latest technology to simplify deployment is critical for our officers, who must pivot quickly and make immediate decisions when the unexpected occurs. Ease of deployment was a top priority for our department. The FlexShield is not overly complicated. It’s in the car, it functions and it’s simple to use. All the officer has to do is unzip it, fold it open, and then it’s the officer’s choice to inflate it or keep it flexible.
In the case of the FlexShield, handholds are designed to keep the arm in a natural position, no matter which hand is dominant, and an optional shoulder strap further distributes weight while keeping a hand free for a weapon. An innovative bungee design also keeps the shield close while enabling the officer to reach their duty belt when needed.
- Today’s advancements make it easier for the first individual on scene to approach a situation with more protection than soft body armor. High-performance mobile ballistic protection can be lightweight and comfortable while allowing for mobility. FlexShield uses NIJ-certified Level III hard plate inserts to shield officers from high-caliber rifle fire and the most common firearms used by active shooters. The interior of the shield also offers NIJ Level IIIA soft ballistics.
We have not had to use FlexShield in an active shooter situation, and I hope we never have to, but the tool is there if we need it. Manufacturers like Stop Stick Tactical Protection are even striving to apply the latest advancements in ways to keep the price of mobile ballistic shields economical and within reach for law enforcement departments working within today’s budget.
Best Technology Only Works when Implemented
The latest FBI statistics indicate that the number of active shooter incidents increased by 66% from 2018 to 2022.1 On average, law enforcement officers are responding within three minutes after being called to these incidents.2 Situations can change in minutes, making quick access and deployment of ballistic protection critical.
No matter what ballistic shield your department chooses, get it out, use it, and train with it just like with any other tool. Your officers have to work with a tool regularly to remember they have it available. While massive, rugged SWAT shields will always have their place, advancements that make mobile ballistic shields like FlexShield available for the patrol officer first on scene have already made a difference.
Immediately Put to the Test
In our county, Deputies Kenneth Harless and Jimmy Martin found themselves using FlexShield only one day after receiving the tool when an armed suspect barricaded himself and was threatening harm or suicide. Deputy Harless was able to use the shield for cover to get into position and take the suspect into custody. He shares that just knowing he had another layer of protection instilled confidence. He calls the FlexShield a phenomenal tool.
Deputy Martin adds that there are so many instances where having a ballistic shield on a daily basis is helpful for patrol officers. He sums up what so many in our department have expressed about having a mobile ballistic shield like FlexShield. Having this tool will save lives.
Bonowi™ FlexShield Ballistic Shield is available from Stop Stick Tactical Protection. The world leader in safely ending high-speed pursuits now provides tactical choices with a commitment to Protecting Those Who Protect Us. To learn more or to discuss other tactical protection options, visit https://stopstick.com/tactical-protection/.