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March 20, 2014
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Loraine Burger For Cops, By Cops
with Loraine Burger

Flexible, lightweight ballistic shield fits anywhere

The Rapid Deployment Shield is light weight, collapsible, and ideal for fitting in your squad and other tight spaces

Business Name:  San Tan Gear
Product:  Rapid Deployment Shield
Officer/ Department: Deputy Sheriff Brent Grove /Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office / U.S. Marine Corps veteran
Website:  www.santangear.com

What is your signature product?
The Rapid Deployment Shield (RDS) is a light weight, collapsible, rapid deployment Level IIIA ballistic shield.  We have also developed another version — the Personal Defense Shield (PDS) — which is made of two panels instead of four.

It’s made with a mixture of Kevlar and Dyneema which allow the shields to be as light as possible.

Where did the idea come from?
One night on patrol I responded to a 999 call — possible suicide — and it was a lady with a gun. We were trying to talker own without being in harm’s way but we had to be exposed in some fashion to talk with her. I remember that night not putting a hard shield in the patrol car because the lack of storage space. I sat there thinking if I had that shield, I could get closer.

I also noticed that most hard ballistic shields were at district stations and not in patrol cars for the same reason — lack of space. I thought to myself there has to be a better way. That night during my patrol break I sketched out a shield on a napkin that might just be the solution.

How did that idea turn into a product?
I would like to take the credit but actually my wife gave me the idea on how it should be designed without even knowing it. My wife and I were talking about it how I wasn’t sure how to build it. and she was closing the blinds on the window. She just closed a blind and I told her to do it again…she looked at me like I was crazy.

I built a very crude prototype and starting asking cops what they thought. It was a hit and I knew I had to get this product on the market.

How did you test it out?
Like all armor products, the RDS had to be tested to meet the NIJ standard. I worked with an armor company and knew what the testing requirements were.

I had that armor company provide a certified solution that would work with my design. I had two shields made and tested them myself, and from that made a few changes before the final version that is sold today.  The first version had plastic buckles on the shielded side which didn’t withstand the force of gunfire, (even though the shield itself wasn’t being penetrated) which could potentially cause the panels to slide and create a gap vulnerable to gunfire.  to The RDS meets or exceeds NIJ 0108.01 for protective materials.

I also had small police agencies test it out by shooting just about every pistol and shotgun round at it with 100 percent stoppage. The police chief was so impressed that he said, “I do not have the budget to buy these, but how fast can you get me two of your ballistic shields?”

How does it work?
It is actually very simple design and requires little training. It’s made of four certified ballistic panels which overlap each other. The last panel can be removed to make the RDS smaller and lighter when necessary, and it can be set up for a right or left-handed person. When it is closed the size is only 24” x 15.5” which easily fits in the front seat of patrol car at hand’s reach. To deploy, you simply pull on a strap and within a second the RDS is 24” X 53” which is more coverage than your typical size hard shield.

The laminate-fiber material the shields are made from means that they’re soft — which has some perks we weren’t expecting. Aside from being convenient to keep in the front seat of your squad, it can fit into tight spaces where hard shields can’t — such as mobile homes and airplanes.  

Where can it be purchased?
The Rapid Deployment Shield (RDS) is available only at www.santangear.com and its available in Black, Coyote, Ranger Green, and Navy. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for delivery once a purchase order is submitted. The price starts for a basic model at around $2,000 each. There are customizable options like a ballistic viewport and a tactical light design specifically for the RDS. Volume pricing is also available.

50 agencies have already purchased the Rapid Deployment Shield — one agency (that generates a lot of repo income) bought 62 of them so that every squad would be equipped with an RDS.

What’s next for San Tan Gear?
The company is currently working on prototypes for two new products using similar Kevlar and Dyneema materials: a ballistic laptop bag and a ballistic drop-down panel ideal for schools that can be stowed above doorways and dropped over the door in active shooter scenarios. 

About the author

From mobile apps to tactical gear to the newest trends in police technology, For Cops, By Cops covers products that are designed and tested by current and former law enforcement officers for on-duty use. The features are designed to both help out our brothers and sisters in law enforcement with their businesses and keep the police community aware and up-to-date on the latest police products.

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