Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fort Thomas Police Install New Crime Fighting Tool

This is the first police vehicle equipped with the the Viper Shield.
The Viper Shield was created by police officer Chad Martin out of necessity as the result of a particularly deadly encounter when he worked on the Lexington, Kentucky police force.  And thank goodness he had his prototype with him in 2013 when there was an active shooter situation in a medical arts building on Grand Avenue.  Martin lead the way into the building behind his specially designed lightweight ballistic shield which lead to a quick search of the building.

That device made such an impression that the Fort Thomas police plans to add it to every vehicle. The shield weighs about 8.5 pounds and is secured behind the driver’s seat. A pull of a t-handle behind the driver’s seat releases the shield and it is ready for service. It offers additional protection to a vest.

Chad Martin, now with Wilder police, has an interesting story.  He told his story in an interview in 2015 with the Kentucky Law Enforcement Magazine. "There was a domestic violence call where the  fire department was dispatched and they beat law enforcement to the scene.  The perpetrator opened fire and shot three firemen — two died. In that situation, police officers were on the perimeter while this guy was still  shooting at helpless individuals in the middle of the front yard, and officers couldn’t get to them. It was 45 minutes before SWAT could assemble and get on scene." The shield was created out of a need to act quickly in order to save lives.

Officer Rohlfer demonstrates the Viper Shield. FTM file. 
In that same interview Martin recalled the 2013 medical arts shooting on Grand Avenue. “A gentleman met his ex-wife after work and opened  fire on her. We heard the call that there was an active shooter at the medical center. All agencies responded. By the time we got there, Fort  Thomas had just made entry into the lobby. As they were getting ready to start making entry through the building, I yelled for them to hold up and I grabbed the shield, became the shield man and had a team ready to go through three stories, room to room with the protection of a shield.  There is a lot of security in that.” 

This is an advertisement. 
Martin walked me through the various stages of creation and testing before settling on the current materials and size. He is also getting feedback about how it is being used by agencies around the country. But there was one thing he remains steadfastly confident of, "It's a new tool for patrol officers. It's a real game changer that will save lives."

Fort Thomas Lieutenant Rich Whitford, a seven year SWAT vet, says, “This will save lives. You have additional protection” which allows an officer to move more quickly into certain situations.  Officer Zack Rohlfer agrees “It’s like having a bullet proof vest for your face.”

The shield is pretty amazing. The website claims that “When properly using The VIPER Shield Rapid Deployment System, officers are not only protecting vital areas left exposed by a vest, but they now have the ability to stop some of the most powerful and deadly handgun rounds.  The VIPER Shield's opaque armor, transparent armor and all fasteners have proven the ability to stop 9mm and .44 Magnum rounds. Through independent testing, The VIPER Shield has made evident that its ballistic performance rivals shields of greater expense, weight and those more difficult to access and handle.” 

This is the kind of tool that Captain America would want.

The shield in its cradle behind the driver's seat. FTM file. 

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