'Shield the Badges' non-profit hopes to outfit all of LPD with active shooter vests

Posted at 6:08 PM, Sep 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-30 18:08:34-04

Every member of the Lakeland Police Department may soon get more protection during an active shooter scenario if a new non-profit reaches it’s lofty goal.

Shield the Badges is raising money to buy every sworn LPD officer an active shooter vest designed to stop high-caliber rounds.

Ashton Bardwell, who runs the Derringer Gun Shop in lakeland, comes from a family of police officers — her dad works for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and her husband is with LPD.

“We never really worried about his security until now,” she said.

Lately, active shooter scenarios seem to be happening with more frequency.

It happened again just this week, when an active shooter opened fire at an elementary school in South Carolina. And of course this summer, the worst shooting in US history happen just down the road at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

Two scenarios where officers are running towards the gunfire while everyone else is trying to escape it.

“It’s definitely scary. It’s a lot different than it used to be,” Bardwell said.

She recently deduced to turn that concern into action, forming the brand new profit named Shield the Badges.

The goal: to raise more than 65-thousand dollars to buy a vest for all 210 officers on Lakeland’s force.

“It’s just an enhanced ballistic protection to what the officers already wear,” said Lakeland Police Chief Larry Giddens.

He said the heavy duty vest is something officers would carry in their cars.

Any time they roll up on an active shooter investigation, they would throw it on over their uniform and smaller bullet proof vest.

The active shooter vests cost about 500 dollars a piece.

“Every morning when an officer wakes up and kisses their spouse goodbye, they don’t know that that’s going to be the last time they see them,” Giddens said. “And that’s pretty daunting.”

To donate to the cause, you can visit the non-profit’s GoFundMe page.