Official reports say that at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday March 3, Officer Richard Kunz of the Schertz (Texas) Police Department pulled over a black Toyota Corolla on Interstate 35.

Every good cop knows there’s no such thing as a “routine” traffic stop. Kunz’s experience proves that old bit of blue wisdom.

Police say that as Kunz approached the Corolla, the driver, identified as Michael Patrick Kennedy, 48, pulled a pistol and aimed it at Kunz’s face. Kunz managed to duck behind his car as bullets started to fly.

In the ensuing firefight Kunz’s patrol car was struck at least 30 times by shots fired from an AK-47. As 7.6mm slugs ripped into his car, Kunz returned fire with his sidearm. He hit Kennedy three times in the back and neck, ending the battle.

Kennedy was transported to a local hospital where the day after the shootout he was reportedly in serious condition. He was charged with attempted capital murder.
Officer Kunz miraculously escaped injury. And to see just how much of a miracle do a quick search on Yahoo! and you will see frightening photos of bullet-trajectory rods sticking out of Kunz’s Ford, making it look like some kind of blue-and-white mechanized porcupine.

I’ve seen images like this before. In the four years that I’ve been the editor of Police, I’ve written about, researched, or otherwise come across numerous reports of officers being ambushed in their cars by gangbangers and other miscreants wielding AK-47s.

There are a variety of reasons that the bad guys like the AK. But the most important are that they shoot really fast. A fully automatic AK can hose out 600 rounds per minute. And they hit really hard. The AK shoots a 7.62x39mm round that will make short work of your personal body armor and your patrol car. In other words, the AK-47 is the ideal weapon for killing cops.

There’s only so much you can do to protect yourself from AK-47 fire. Hard armor is just way too uncomfortable and bulky for patrol duty.

However, there is one thing that can be done to provide you with some measure of protection against the devastating effects of an AK-47: Your agency can supply you with ballistically armored patrol cars.

Sounds far-fetched, right? Not necessarily. At the recent International Association of Chiefs of Police show, Ford showed factory-installed ballistic doors as an option for the 2006 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. The panels combine both ballistic fiber and hard plates to create a car door that can shield you from both pistol and rifle bullets, including the 7.6x39mm round fired by the gangbanger’s favorite toy, the AK.

You’ve been trained to use your car door as a shield when the shooting starts. This isn’t a bad move—any cover is better than no cover—but the average patrol car door is not much of a bullet catcher. Even pistol bullets will rip right through it if they don’t impact on the door frame. Ford’s new innovation makes the standard police tactic of using your car door as a shield much more effective.

Let’s talk dollars and cents. Ford says its ballistic panels cost $1,200 per door. The buyer can choose to add the armor to just the driver’s door or the driver’s door and the passenger’s door. So the maximum this option would cost is $2,400 per car.

Now, that’s not a drop in the bucket, especially when you start to multiply that figure by the number of cars in some agencies’ fleets. But any agency that’s buying 2006 Crown Vics should find a way to purchase this option, at least for the driver’s door.

And if you are an officer in such an agency, you should ask them to buy it for you. Your life may very well depend on it.