More than 300 law officers in North Texas are being outfitted this week with kits that include ballistic vests and helmets.
The money for the gear has been donated by people who want officers to have protection during the most dangerous situations.
It's a philanthropic couple from Fort Worth, Kelly and Jeff Dillard, who donated most of the active shooter kits. Before this, they outfitted the whole TCU Police Department with the vests. Now, they're spreading their support to more departments in DFW.
It used to be that only SWAT officers had this kind of equipment, but times have changed.
“These officers are out there putting their lives on the line. And they’re going up against these rifle threats,” said Jake Skifstad, the president and founder of SHIELD 616. “It just seems that there are more and more and more of these situations. But yet while they’re trying to protect us, while they’re trying to protect you, they have no protection while they’re trying to do that.”
Officers hope they’ll never need the active shooter kits that retail for as much as $3,000. But because of private donations through the nonprofit, SHIELD 616, 322 deputies in Tarrant and Collin counties and police officers in Fort Worth, Cedar Hills ISD, Arlington and Richland Hills are getting the kits. They are gear the departments might not be able to afford otherwise.
“I don’t even think that words can express the true meaning and the gratitude,” said Richland Hills Police Chief Kimberley Sylvester.
Skifstad founded the initiative because he saw the need firsthand. He was a Colorado Springs police officer.
“I was part of the Planned Parenthood active shooter where we had five officers shot and a friend of mine was killed,” he said. “It is so terrifying to have to go through that doorway when there is full automatic gunfire on the other side.”
“We have to transition from being guardians to warriors,” Sylvester said. “And they have provided that equipment for us to make that transition.”
Denver Broncos player Von Miller from Desoto has been involved with the organization. He donated 10 vests for local officers.