Armored Police Cars | What Law Enforcement Needs to Know

Armored Police Cars | What Law Enforcement Needs to Know
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I was invited to a BBQ by my brother-in-law, who’s a sheriff deputy in the next town over.  As you can imagine, the BBQ was nothing but first responders from EMS and firefighters to his co-workers on the force. As work talk started to take over the conversation, I just sat back and listened to the issues they brought up, such as working alternating shifts, long hours, and difficult people.

Someone brought up how there has been an increase in officer injuries and fatalities lately due to first responders being ambushed upon arrival to a scene. I waited for a pause and asked the entire group, “how many of your departments have armored vehicles?” It was telling that half of the police officers laughed and everyone else looked around like I was speaking another language. 

Why Do Police Need Ballistic Police Cars?

When I was a police officer, we constantly trained on how to respond to different situations, from domestics to traffic stops. One thing all cops are trained on is not responding too close to the subject to put yourself in a position to be ambushed without having the ability to exit the car. It’s tricky though because you can’t respond a half-block away because you lose the tactical advantage and leave yourself even more open to an ambush. 

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There is no doubt that more officers around the country are being targeted by deranged gunmen that want to kill a cop simply for being a cop. Unfortunately, it seems like there is a growing hatred and misunderstanding between law enforcement and other first responders. 

In Virginia alone, there have been multiple situations where an officer responds to a situation and have been fired upon before exiting their vehicles. Officer Dominic “Nick” J. Winum conducted a traffic stop in February and the driver got out of the car and opened fire on Officer Winum, killing him in his car.

On May 5th, an officer was driving in Hampton and was fired upon with multiple bullets entering the vehicle. Luckily, the officer was not injured. The most newsworthy was the incident in Los Angeles where a man walked up to a police car and opened fire, wounding both officers inside the vehicle. 

In 2020, 40 officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty. 8 of those officers were ambushed and caught off guard. As I spoke with the officers at the BBQ, it was clear that everyone knew and understood the risk of being ambushed while responding or just driving in their vehicle. As unfortunate as it is to share the stories of officers being targeted with cowardly ambushes, it’s necessary to acknowledge the problem so we can fix it.

HOW CAN POLICE DEPARTMENTS LIMIT AMBUSH ATTACKS?

There is a lot that can be done when it comes to staying as safe as possible on duty. We have a saying in the military that many LEOs know as well. As cliche and redundant as it sounds, “complacency kills”. It only takes a minute to change your life for the worse, so it’s imperative that every officer remain vigilant at all times.

According to the F.B.I., 62% of assaults on officers occur on officers driving alone. One way to remedy this issue is to double up on patrols because assailants are much less likely to ambush an officer if he/she has a partner. However, I realize that isn’t likely for all departments given staff shortages, and budget cuts. 

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The other option would be to find a way to use ballistic protection inside the vehicle so officers are not as exposed as they are with a seat belt wrapped around them and controlling a vehicle. Armor can be incredibly expensive, bulky, and counterproductive for the vehicle’s mechanics. 

In the military, most of the vehicles I was in had to be up-armored. No matter what your driving experience is, everyone can tell the difference between an up armor vehicle and a regular steel frame car. This is because there really haven’t been very effective ways of installing ballistic protection with Level IV NIJ-Listed capabilities. These vehicles are slower, have significantly less torque, and reduce the overall mobility of the vehicle. 

WHY ARE THE MAJORITY OF POLICE CARS BUILT WITHOUT ARMOR?

The officers I talked to explained to me that they didn’t think that the department couldn’t afford ballistic protection. It was a great feeling to know that some of the officers knew of and respected our company, but none of them knew about the BallisticBoard® protection. However, I didn’t want to seem like I was selling them something so I just told them to research BallisticBoard® and ShotStop® could really help keep them safe.

BallisticBoard®

The days of heavy, unaffordable ballistic vehicle protection are over. As more officers around the country learn about ShotStop® body armor, the more everyone understands the significance of our Duritium® technology. BallisticBoard® is made from the same Duritium® technology that produces award-winning ballistic plates. 

BallisticBoard is a custom ballistic material that can be cut into very specific shapes and sizes to fit almost any vehicle you can think of. You can customize your BallisticBoard® as thin as ⅛” to stop all handgun calibers and weighs barely over 1lb square foot.

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Regardless of the higher press when a semi-automatic rifle is used, most incidents against the public are committed by handguns. This means that any department could significantly increase the safety of their officers with BallisticBoard®. The best part is that our BallisticBoard® will take multiple strikes from any handgun caliber an officer will encounter. The fact that it will do so without negatively impacting the operational capabilities of the vehicle is an incredible feature to have. 

Does BallisticBoard® Stop Rifle-Caliber Bullets?

BallisticBoard® is roughly 0.5” thick and weighs about 2.5lbs. Per square foot, will protect the officer from common rifle-caliber threats. We understand that with rifle ammo it’s important to stop multiple rounds in and around the same location. 

WHAT SPECIFICALLY CAN SHOTSTOP® OFFER FOR VEHICLES?

We can provide ballistic protection inserted in the door panels of nearly any vehicle. Our goal is to provide armor for all door panels, trunks, and hoods. As officers begin to train with this new armor, they will learn to slide down inside the vehicle and use the doors to prevent any bullet penetration. 

ShotStop® also offers BallisticBoard® clipboards that will stop handgun bullets. Having a ballistic clipboard allows you to use the clipboard to protect your face from shots fired through the unarmored glass. We know we won’t be able to save every officer with door panels, but we will give every officer a chance to survive. 

WHEN WILL SHOTSTOP® SELL VEHICLE ARMOR?

Due to the high demand for our body armor, we needed to shift focus to fulfill the orders for Level III & Level IV plates. We are now working tirelessly to build new relationships with installers who can correctly install the BallisticBoard®. The rest of 2021 will be spent building those relationships with licensed installers. We fully expect to start taking and fulfilling orders by early 2022.

In the meantime, if you’re a professional installer and would like to work with ShotStop®, we’d love to hear from you and establish a relationship to get our officers the protection they need and deserve. Even though we don’t expect to have the capability to up-armor each vehicle until 2022, we can still answer any questions you may have regarding our BallisticBoard®. 

WHY CHOOSE SHOTSTOP®?

Our Motto is “We Protect the Protectors” and we put everything we are as a company into fulling that goal. If there are any police departments, fire departments, or EMS organizations that need ballistic protection, we will do everything we can to make that happen.

We believe that 1 officer killed while in his/her vehicle is too many. The technology is available today to eliminate this trend of ambush murders on first responders. Vehicle armor doesn’t have to be heavy and bulky anymore and we’ve proven this with our NIJ-Listed body armor, consistently. We will continue to work with any organization wanting this protection and are worried about not being able to afford it. Call our sales team at sales@shotstop.com and let our sales team help keep your officers safe. 

If you’re interested in supporting First Responders, we recommend getting involved in the following organizations:

Law Enforcement Foundation-Ohio

National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund

First Responders Foundation

Police Officers Support Association


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