It weighs 10 pounds, is fully-collapsible, and fits into the trunk of a standard police cruiser.
And it just could end up saving the life of a San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Deputy and the people they rush in to protect.
The Helus Shield – named after the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. who was killed when he rushed into an active shooter situation at a bar last November – is now a tool that local deputies will have at their disposal when responding to calls like the one that Ron Helus took last year at a bar in Thousand Oaks.
Helus, who gave his life in order to subdue an active shooter that ultimately killed 11 people, served as the inspiration for the creation of the shield which replaces traditional ballistic shields that are often clunky and rigid.
San Joaquin County Sheriff Pat Withrow has championed the use of the shields, which were designed in part by the department’s range master, since before he took office and earlier this month announced the deployment of 20 of the $600 pieces of equipment that he hopes will eventually be available to every sworn deputy on the force.
Withrow was on hand to unveil the shields at a media event in French Camp last week and demonstrated how officers can use them to protect themselves against small arms fire.
And while they function somewhat similar to the rigid ballistic shields that they will replace, the Helus shields are flexible which allow for a broader range of motion when the responding officer is wielding a weapon while providing protection of all vital organs. The collapsible nature of the shields make them easier to deploy in the field, and if all goes as planned, Withrow may end up ordering another 20 shields after the start of the fiscal year on July 1.
While the shields were something Withrow has called for since before he was sworn in to his elected office, he announced their purchase back in February in one of the Facebook videos that he posts every month to update San Joaquin County residents on what is happening within the department and the county as a whole.