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Port Huron to equip patrol cars with ballistic shields

Photo courtesy of armorexpress.com An Armor Express Level IIIA ballistic shield similar to the shields purchased by the Port Huron Police Department.

By Jim Bloch

Police officers in the city of Port Huron will soon have additional tools to protect them against armed threats in the field.

The city council approved the purchase of 14 ballistic shields from On Duty Gear, LLC, of Clinton Township, at its regular meeting on Jan. 10.

The city will spend $26,600 for the Armor Express Level IIIA ballistic shields, which measure 20-inches by 34-inches. The ballistic shields are hand-held and designed to stop or deflect bullets.

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“The reason for the number is so that each patrol car and some of our undercover vehicles will all have a ballistic shield in the back,” said City Manager James Freed, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on the city’s website. “If there’s an active shooter or if something goes on at one of our schools, we don’t know which patrol car is going to get there first. With our strategy for immediately taking on threats, every single patrol car needs to be ready to make entry.”

Early in December, PHPD investigated eight threats to schools in the wake of the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School.

“So these will be in every patrol car?” asked council member Anita Ashford.

“Yes,” said Freed.

Has the city used the ballistic shields in the past? Ashford asked.

“We’ve had a few for some of our SRT teams, but not for the vehicles,” said Freed.

SRTs refer to special reaction teams designed to respond to high-risk situations.

The St. Clair County Prosecutor’s Office will contribute $5,000 from its forfeiture fund to help pay for the shields. The city is also hoping to land a grant from the Michigan Municipal Risk Management Authority to offset some of the cost.

Each shield weighs about 13 pounds and comes with a viewport that allows officers to see the scene in front of them while keeping their heads protected.

The shields are made using “hybrid ballistic technology which minimizes weight while increasing protection,” according to the Armor Express website. “The new shape of the (shield) gives the user greater coverage while allowing for multiple shooting platforms with (a) handgun or long gun. Keeping the weight down allows operators to engage threats and obstacles with less fatigue. The rear of the (shield) is covered in loop allowing for operators to place mirrors, entry tools and other needed equipment at arm’s reach while still being able to remain behind the protection of the (shield).”

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com. 

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