Local law enforcement expands bulletproof protection

Officer Daniel Fought stood at the ready on the Groveland Police firing range, staring down an unlikely target, and waiting for the go-ahead to draw.

“Range hot,” yelled Fought before pulling his service weapon and firing 2 shots directly into the side…of a nearly new-looking police SUV.

Weapon re-holstered, Fought and a group of others walked up to the SUV to open the door and discover the 2 shots had not gone through and into the vehicle. One of the other men pulled a tab from below the passenger side window and slid out a large bulletproof panel that had successfully stopped the shots.

“Didn’t go through,” said Shawn Andres, a representative from Aegis Defense with a smile.

Andres and the team from Aegis were able to smile again and again as Fought opened fire on their newest line of bulletproof gear for law enforcement.

A bulletproof halo to go on an officer’s vehicle headrest, a lightweight and collapsible bulletproof shield, a lightweight but extra-armored plate made to stop AR-15 bullets, even a glass windshield that was made to stop incoming bullets but allow officers to fire back from inside their car.

All of the items held up and stopped Fought’s fire from a standard side-arm, and many from an AR-15.

“Oh it’s crucial,” said Fought. “The threat to law enforcement today is as high as it’s ever been.”

After more school shootings, attacks on officers in the field, and even shots fired on police departments, Florida-based Aegis has continued to up their arsenal of offerings for police to protect themselves.

“It is [sad] ya know,” said Andres. “You come to this and you look at all the stuff like when we go to an airport today. The inconveniences of technology and the threats we face, so yeah, you look at this and you say it’s unfortunate that we’re in a world where we’re actually trying to produce stuff you never thought about as little as a year and a half ago.”

Aegis’s main line these days is add-ons for smaller police stations like Groveland to upgrade their existing protections. Things like the stronger-armor inserts for bulletproof vests, the panels and glass for cars, and even proximity-alert security systems for police vehicles.

Now the company is expanding their line beyond law enforcement due to the additional calls for security after recent shootings. One of the latest expansions is bulletproof office cubicles, and the company said more items like that are on the way.

For Fought and his fellow officers though, they said the new bulletproof technology is an unfortunate, but important necessity and peace of mind these days.

“My wife absolutely loves it because the more advanced the tech is that comes out, the safer she thinks I am,” said Officer Travis McGee from Groveland.

“Those individuals that want to do harm to us: they’re training as well because they’re on a mission, they’re on a mission to accomplish that goal of harming us,” said Fought.