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Up-armoring for active-shooter response

By Michael Foreman, Point Blank Enterprises

Active shooter attacks are dynamic incidents (often over in 10-15 minutes) that vary significantly from one attack to another, but they more than often involve deadly physical force perpetrated by an individual(s) who has unrestricted access to multiple victims.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formally defines an active shooter as “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area.”

The DHS notes in its definition that, “in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims.”

The level of police response to an active-shooter attack is unique to the circumstances of the incident. As the nation’s largest municipal police force, the New York Police Department (NYPD) has developed a list of recommendations to mitigate the risks from active shooter attacks based on an in-depth analysis of active shooter incidents from 1966 to 2010.

Mitigating Risk in Active Shooter Events
Perhaps the most critical element of mitigating risk in active shooter events is the ability for law enforcement responders to have the necessary equipment readily available — including body armor which enables them to quickly approach armed individuals and address the threat, and protect the public and support themselves during the incident in an efficient and effective manner.

Increasingly, we are seeing a paradigm shift in the development and delivery of body armor solutions that can immediately meet the needs of officers responding to an active shooter situation.

This has led to the coining of the term “up-armor” — in other words, armor evolving or being modified to address a threat. Most likely a law enforcement officer is protected by a soft body armor concealable vest certified for handgun round protection.

However, a soft body armor concealable vest will not protect from rifle threats. As a result, agencies need to be able to “up-armor” their protective vests with rifle rated hard armor plates (NIJ Level III or Level IV) to meet this type of threat.

#1 Rule of Body Armor: Stop What You Carry
During the past 50 years, agencies’ approach to preparing for and dealing with active shooter situations have changed tremendously with regard to training and equipment — driven in more recent times by the horrific massacres at Columbine and Virginia Tech, for example. Far-reaching changes have included:

1.) Equipping patrol officers with more advanced, high-powered firearms for immediate response to incidents that clearly involve the suspect’s use of deadly force
2.) Better, more uniformed, rapid deployment tactics
3.) Up-armoring body armor solutions with hard armor options that provide greater protection against the very high-powered firearms/duty rounds that they now carry

Unless officers up-armor to meet the threat when a patrol rifle is deployed, the “Stop What You Carry” rule is violated.

The S.C.O.P.E of Enhanced Protection
The introduction of new-generation, Self-Contained Operational Platforms and Equipment (SCOPE) provide law enforcement officers with the necessary tools to meet an active shooter response situation. These tools include up-armor, ammo, light systems, medical and hydration supplies, and identification markers.

In focusing on the up-armor aspect, the most advanced Active Shooter Platform or Response Kit enables the officer to rapidly don a plate carrier over his/her existing concealable vest and immediately upgrade their protection when a threat situation escalates.

The plate carrier is the foundation of an active shooter response kit because it provides up-armor capabilities that address the threat of rifle and high-powered firearms typically deployed. A responder can quickly and easily put on and take off the protective equipment as needed. 

The latest Active Shooter Response Kits are designed to be adaptable to officers’ varying functions and work environments. They include affordable and premium soft and hard armor solutions that are lightweight, highly flexible and deliver the ultimate in performance under the most extreme circumstances.

About the Author
Michael Foreman is a 35-year law enforcement veteran. Currently, Foreman serves as Point Blank Enterprises’ Vice President of Government and International Sales. Foreman retired as a Chief for the Orange County Sheriff's Office. Assignments included patrol, K-9, vice, narcotics, criminal investigations, drug interdiction, fugitive unit, training, and gang unit. He served eighteen years in SWAT, holding several positions including that of SWAT Commander. For twelve years Foreman was the designated High-Risk Incident Commander for Orange County. Foreman has lectured throughout the United States, Canada, Caribbean, Europe and South America. Foreman serves as a Director for the National Tactical Officers Association and was Past President of the Florida SWAT Association. He holds a degree in criminal justice and is a graduate of Florida's Senior Leadership Program. He has been recognized as an expert witness on the use of SWAT and deadly force in federal court.