According to Boland, Newberry County also conducts active shooter training using Simunitions annually. This is coordinated training of allied agencies through Newberry County. "We train every single one of our officers for active shooter incidents," adds Foster.Covering costs
Because they are prohibitively expensive, how can a rural agency afford to purchase ballistic shields? It is unlikely that a highly motivated individual officer could go out and purchase a product that costs three times the price of a duty handgun. Although they are a high priority for officer safety, they are not necessarily the highest priority. Most administrators are already juggling the cost of communications equipment, vehicles and safety equipment on limited budgets. Even larger municipalities do not put one in every patrol car, as recommended.
Although Foster admits ballistic shields are expensive, he says, "I would encourage rural agencies to obtain and train with them." Newberry deploys shields regularly on high-risk warrant services and searches.
The Department of Homeland Security has grant opportunities such as the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program (CEDAP) (http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/odp/equipment_cedap.htm). These opportunities are designed to help smaller jurisdictions obtain necessary equipment and training that will strengthen or augment their capabilities. RULETC also works to keep agencies aware of grants relating to current technology.
Agencies must be willing to employ creative strategies when allocating funding for ballistic shields. For example, some agencies might look for state-funded grants that fall under "school safety" with a provision for equipment. Some counties can combine fire and law enforcement resources for emergency response training, which could incorporate additional funding.
When looking to purchase agencies should pick a product that is at least as effective as the officer's vest. Second, select a manufacturer that markets a practice shield so officers may train techniques without using the real thing. Third, the one that goes in every patrol car should be the flexible kind. This will allow it to fit in an already crowded car and be quiet when bumping against a wall while moving.
The ballistic shield should be in every patrol car, available for rapid deployment for incidents that "just won't wait."
Lindsey Bertomen is a retired police officer who teaches Administration of Justice at Hartnell College in Salinas, California.