POLICE Magazine

MAY 2019

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18 POLICE MAY 2019 Armoring law enforcement pa- trol vehicles in the United States was once technologically and budget- arily impractical. It was also largely viewed as an unnecessary safeguard against an unlikely occurrence, an of- ficer being ambushed in a car. But the technology has vastly im- proved, making the addition of armor to patrol vehicles easier to do and less ex- pensive. And that "unnecessary" part of the equation disappeared in the last few years as more and more officers were ambushed inside their vehicles. • January 2016, Philadelphia—Offi- cer Jesse Hartnett was on night patrol, sitting in his car at an intersection, when an ISIS-inspired gunman approached from the driver's side and fired 13 shots from a handgun. Hartnett was hit three times, his left arm was shattered, but he managed to kick open the door, chase after the gunman, and open fire. e gunman was wounded by Hartnett. He was arrested by responding officers. • November 2016, Des Moines, IA—A gunman ap- proached the patrol vehicle of Sgt. Anthony David Bem- inio while he was stopped at a traffic light and opened fire. Beminio was killed. Twenty minutes earlier and two miles away in the suburb of Urban- dale, IA, the same gunman had killed Urbandale patrol of- ficer Justin Martin, also while he sat in his car stopped at an intersection. In both cases, the gunman had approached from the driver's side of the vehicle and fired into the door and window. • July 2017, New York City— NYPD Officer Miosotis P. Familia was working in a marked command post ve- hicle at an intersection in the Bronx. A gunman walked up to the window and fired a single shot, striking Familia in the head, and killing her. e gunman was killed in a shootout with respond- ing officers. As is tradition in the NYPD, Familia was posthumously promoted to detective. ese four officers were not the first, nor will they be the last officers to be ambushed in their vehicles, but the at- tacks on them spurred law enforcement leaders in a number of U.S. jurisdictions to seek out ways to better protect their sworn personnel inside vehicles. INSIDE THE DOOR e concept of adding armor to patrol vehicles is not new. Ford first showed its NIJ Level IIIA (handgun, shotgun) and Level III (rifle, but not armor pierc- ing) vehicle armor at the International Association of Chiefs of Police show in 2007. e armor is offered as an option, and is now available in Level IV (armor piercing). What is new is that demand for ve- hicle armor installed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on pa- trol vehicles or installed aftermarket is rising fast. Since 2015 Ford's in-the-door vehicle armor has been made by DEW Engi- neering (www.dewengineering.com), an Ottawa, Canada-based company that built its business on producing mil- itary armor for the U.S. and Canadian militaries. Jackie Porthier, a DEW engineer and director of the company's business de- velopment, says that in addi- tion to its work with Ford in the OEM market, the company is now branching out into mak- ing armor for vehicles that are already on the road. "It's not unusual for agencies to have wanted armored panels when they ordered the vehicle but they couldn't afford them at the time. Now they have the budget and want to add them," Porthier says, adding the com- pany is now selling directly to agencies. DEW's aftermarket prod- ucts are available for a variety of popular law enforcement vehicles, including Chevrolet and Dodge models. For after- market sales, DEW ships the panels directly to the agency or to the agency's upfitter for installation. DEW has some Canadian g PHOTO: DEW ENGINEERING DEW Engineering makes Ford's in-the-door armor. DAVID GRIFFITH ROLLING OFFICE ARMORING YOUR Officers are getting shot and killed in their cars and SUVs. Vehicle armor manufacturers and their law enforcement agency customers are hoping to make that a thing of the past.

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