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Bob Parker

Bob Parker

Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

Deploying a Ballistic Shield

A ballistic shield has become a tactical necessity in this era of active shooters.

April 26, 2012  |  by Jose Medina

LCOA Composites' DeadStop ballistic shield. Photo: LCOA
LCOA Composites' DeadStop ballistic shield. Photo: LCOA

SWAT trainers usually yell, "Cover, Cover, Cover," to teams performing tactical training movements. Building sound operational skill may save your life; yet carrying a proper ballistic shield gives you another important safety tool.

In the past 10 years, active shooter response has changed many of the ways officers respond to critical incidents. After the Columbine High massacre, agencies began to favor dynamic entries over the "surround and call out" tactic so officers could stop the killing. When entering an armed encounter, a ballistic shield can make all the difference, as we saw earlier this month in New York City.

Let's look at what you should look for when choosing a ballistic (not bulletproof) shield.

The most common ballistic rating carried today by officers is a Level IIIA shield. Level IIIA shields handle the job and are also much more affordable than Level III or Level IV shields. As the levels go up, so does the weight, as well as the price.

More advanced tactical teams who respond to many critical incidents go with the heavier gauge shields and "bunkers" that carry wheel systems to roll down long hallways. These clearly have their place in certain scenarios.

Let's now cover the basics of the shield. First, the shield is nothing more than a form of portable cover. Remember that. It's not rated to stop rifle rounds or sniper rounds unless it's a high-level bunker unit. During a critical incident, officers deploy to the scene and if a shield is available they'll use it. Whether these officers are SWAT or patrol, the same principles apply to the arrival, deployment, and approach. Even with a shield, you'll need to find multiple cover points during the approach. Don't rely on the shield to be that saving-grace tool, especially if you're covering some ground to reach a location.

Now back to the recent hostage barricade in New York. Four members of the NYPD's Emergency Services Unit (ESU) raided an apartment in Brooklyn and exchanged gunfire with ex-con who held hostage his pregnant girlfriend and their infant son.

Nakwon Foxworth, 33, was taken into custody, after firing rounds at the officers, who suffered gunshot wounds to their legs. Once the shooter realized the officers were using shields, he aimed and fired low. The shield saved the officers' lives and a quick apprehension by the entry team kept the shooter from reaching other high-powered weapons. 

When using the shield, you must still look for other cover. Don't double stack two IIIA shields to form a "6B" (IIIA + IIIA) shield. If you see a tree when moving toward danger, use it for cover and stay behind the shield. When moving down a school hallway with a shield, look for cover points.  When shooting with a shield, practice, practice, practice for accuracy, stability and movement. Do not wing your training.

A shield is another tool in your tactical tool bag. Everyone should be proficient with in during movement, entry, shooting and rescue operations. Always know it is a supplemental tool, rather than a "catch all" tool.

Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team. He is a professional trainer for Team APC training.


4 NYPD Officers Shot In Hostage Stand-off

Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Random @ 5/5/2012 5:25 AM

I like the new armored segway that Target security has.You know It has to be built tough; it has a target painted on it.

Chris Craddock @ 6/7/2012 7:56 AM

The NJ story is a great testament on how the use of ballistic shields can save Officers lives. So many teams have ballistic shields but they leave them at the door when clearing a location. Train moving with them and you will feel more comfortable using them in any situation. The other problem is lighting in tactical situations. Try the new Black Cats Light Wall,, it works on any shield. Be safe.

andi @ 7/21/2012 11:17 PM

I recently attended S.R.O convention in Bonita between conferences there where several vendors one particular venture ballistic composites where selling 17"x29" 3a shield for only $475 at first i thought it must have had plastic handles or just cheap construction,I have priced similar shields and they were more than double the price,however made really well.that night looked up on web and found ads on eBay and Craigslist then i found there web site after a hour of reading through i decided to purchase.The shield i got is far better than anything i have seen and the sales guy gave me a shot up shield to put on my wall i hope i never have to use it but after seeing the punishment it will take i fell sorry for the person on the other side

Georg1604e Meredith MD @ 11/7/2017 9:34 AM

Ballistic Shields could have saved the lives of many assult weapon victims. Picture this the deranged gunman enters the church, rock concert, or other densely packed gathering. A dozen muscular athletic male attendees grab for the readily available Riot Shields with attached stun guns. Several of these men are killed in so doing but the remainders charge the psycho/terroist zap him with their stun guns and take hin unto custody so that he (and thus his enablers) stand trial and subsequently proceed to execution a few years later!

With a defense/law enforcement budget that ballons into the hundreds of billions of dollars each years, would not, hundreds of thousands of ballastic shields scattered in key locations throughout America be but a pittance of this enormous budget.

Wake up America! Why should you yield your survival to the Johnny Come Lately Boys in Blue?.

Supply us with ballistic shields that could save hundreds of lives each year.

George Meredith MD
Virginia Beach

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