As the current, cyclical war on law enforcement escalates, the effects are as they have always been during these events in the past: All over the country, cops are figuratively and literally bleeding out of the profession.
There are a record number of retirements, resignations and a disturbingly low number of applicants. As has always happened during these cycles, criminal activity is thriving, and things will not be getting any better soon. Most departments I’m aware of are operating at 65%-75% strength. We need to attract and retain good folks, but how?
Make them safe
We need to make them safe in three areas: Financially, emotionally and, of course, physically. We’ve tried financial enticements like substantial pay raises, hiring bonuses and retention bonuses. We are doing a better job of maintaining emotional safety, considering that officer wellness programs and peer support teams are more common in agencies than not these days.
Still, in our desperation to keep officers and deputies in the service, have we neglected the most important safety factor, that is, actual, physical safety?
A profession under fire
Three hundred thirty-one. That’s how many cops were shot in 2022. Sixty-two of them were killed. Keep in mind, advances in medical training in the field by officers and EMS, as well as emergency rooms and surgeons, have resulted in an all-time low in the percentage of gunshot wounds that result in deaths. That means officers who are shot are much more likely to survive a shooting.
Surviving, however, is a fluid concept. A bullet wound is a life-changing event, and the victim cop will likely never be the same. The effects range from relatively minor bouts with pain and immobility to full-on disabilities such as paralysis or non-functioning kidneys and/or intestinal tracts. The lives of these cops will never be the same because they answered the call to help people and make a positive, front-line difference in their communities.
These are drastic times. As the old saying goes, it’s time for drastic measures. In the law enforcement administrator’s world, “drastic,” can mean changing the way we do things and spending money. The good news is that grants for ballistic protection are pretty common, and the federal government recently announced money was being allocated for law enforcement shortly. What better way to spend those funds than on portable, lightweight ballistic shields? There was a time when the only cops who were afforded the luxury of ballistic shields were tactical team members, and the available shields were very heavy. Technology and availability are changing that. Affordable, available, lightweight ballistic shields in every patrol car should be part of that change.
GC Patrol Shield
Graphene Composite’s GC Patrol Shield is one of those products that can make a difference in officer safety. What makes the GC Patrol Shield different? This non-ceramic barrier is half the weight of conventional shields. At only 21 pounds, the GC Patrol Shield allows an officer more mobility and subjects them to less fatigue. The GC Patrol Shield even has a reinforced edge so that an officer can use it to manipulate (activate) his or her pistol slide. The product comes with a 10-year warranty and the ability to attach accessories such as lights.
The GC Patrol Shield can withstand multiple bullets strikes and shots that strike the edge (which is generally the weakest part of any ballistic barrier) – even from rifle rounds. The shield’s compressed composite material and aerogel technology actually turn the bullet’s energy against itself.
Despite being lighter than traditional shields, the GC Patrol Shield is stab-proof, as well. GC Patrol Shields can be connected to become a wall of protection when there is a need for several officers to advance, such as trying to rescue a downed person/officer.
You can see how the GC Patrol Shield helps close the gap we are seeing in officer safety these days. But it’s more than physical safety. I can tell you it’s incredibly stressful to be in a situation where you might be subject to gunfire with only the occasional sliver of cover the world provides us. I can also tell you that a quality rifle shield inspires confidence in those situations. Now, imagine having one for every department, every shift, or even every car. How much safer and more confident would you feel knowing you have lightweight, ballistic protection between you and the threat? Check out more videos here.