Until now, Level IIIA ballistic shields weren't just heavy-duty, they were heavy. That meant it was difficult to carry a weapon while holding ballistic protection in front of you. Now, LCOA Composites has harnessed its experience creating military vehicle armor and deployable ballistic shelters to develop new DeadStop lightweight police shield technology. The company's ported lightweight Level IIIA shield weighs less than 14 pounds so it can be held with one hand.
"We've combined a number of very unique fabrics and resins to drive the weight down where it can be carried by a police officer," says Rob Wassem, LCOA Composites' vice president of business development. "Because of the demand for lower-cost materials, we've bonded very costly materials with some that are moderately priced to produce what we call a hybrid material, achieving the results of an NIJ Level IIIA at a lower cost." And a much lighter weight than the 18 to 24 pounds of other shields in its class.
Exterior design is of course also important when it comes to protecting officers. In National Institute of Justice tests, the DeadStop IIIA shield exceeded V-50 requirements and proved it can stop a .44 Magnum at 15 feet with multiple-hit capability. "As for the ergonomics, it has a curvature to it, so it surrounds the officer," says Wassem. "It provides almost 90-degree protection. Not just frontal, but to the side to some degree as well."
Another key to the DeadStop shield's combination of light weight and strength is its unusually thin IIIA ballistic window, courtesy of WinTec Security, the exclusive distributor of DeadStop shields. As a ballistic glass film manufacturer,
WinTec developed an advanced film technology to make this possible. The company installs the glass into the shield's port holes before shipping them to customers.
"WinTec can take normal automotive glass and add a film to it. You have a lighter weight glass because you're not creating layers of glass, as would usally be done," says Wassem.
LCOA Composites is in the process of using these same technologies to develop a Level III shield that will weigh around 30 pounds, significantly less than shields currently available in the same class.
In the meantime, agencies that are interested in the Level IIIA DeadStop shield can order them now. And thanks to a corporate grant program managed by WinTec, they may get them for free.
"We are getting significant support for it and we anticipate that in 2011 there will be support for a minimum of 30,000 of these shields to be distributed to police organizations throughout the U.S.," says Wassem.