While violent crime statistics continue to drop in the United States, one of the most horrific types of crimes, mass shootings, continue to gain prevalence both home and abroad. While mass shootings are not a new development historically, American mass shootings – which often take place in civilian heavy populations like schools – present a unique challenge for law enforcement officials tasked with protecting America’s citizens.
Traditionally law enforcement responses have long relied on the idea that the suspect has an intent – that the violence is the means by which they choose to pursue a preferred outcome – and as such, the old methodology included establishing a perimeter and communications with the suspect, and negotiating a peaceful result if at all possible. Modern mass-shooters, however, are increasingly not interested in taking hostages or giving demands. Often, they’re not even looking to survive the encounter, opting instead to simply do as much damage as possible before dying in a hail of gunfire or at their own hands.
This shift in the nature of dangerous situations has placed police officers in a difficult position – the same officers we see walking a beat, issuing traffic citations, and responding to domestic disputes are often now the only thing standing between an active shooter and any number of innocent civilians; a reality that is demonstrated by the dramatic photographs of police officers taking positions among and in front of the people they hope to protect as these tragic shootings unfold.
Existing ballistic shields in use by law enforcement often weigh nearly one hundred pounds, and offer a narrow area of protection no wider than the officer himself. This shields are difficult to maneuver with and offer no protection for other officers or civilians trapped in the line of fire – so engineers at Brigham Young University set out to design a new bulletproof shield that was better suited for the challenges faced by today’s law enforcement community.