Duluth Police Department Receives Active Shooter Response Gear

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: April 18, 2019 08:34 PM

The Duluth Police Department now has new active shooter response gear. It was donated thanks to the help of a local organization who saw a need to help protect first responders from serious injuries they're exposed to on the job.


Shield 616 presented nine sets of active shooter response gear to the Duluth Police Department Thursday.

Shield 616 is an organization whose mission is to protect officers by providing rifle rated armor at no cost to police departments. Thanks to generous donations from the community, Shield 616 was able to purchase the gear for the police department.

"We respond to calls every day that are very dangerous so it’s nice to know that we have this equipment here that will provide extra safety for us,” Spencer Pitzel, a police officer for the Duluth Police Department, said.

"The vest can be rapidly deployed. It gives you better protection and gear to handle that threat. You receive the carrier, the armor plates, the helmet, and the gunshot wound trauma kit,” Debbie Skifstad, a Shield 616 team member, said.

The gear is meant to only be used for active shooter and firearm incidents. Officers put the gear over their uniform and it protects them from rifle fire, which is something their everyday uniform doesn't protect them from.

"The soft body armor we wear underneath our uniforms is for hand guns, much slower velocity bullets. The active shooter gear is for high velocity rifle fire,” Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken, said. "It's a security blanket, if you will, that we have. This is something we hope we never have to use but we have just in case.”

Each set of gear is worth $1500. It has to get replaced every five years. It’s something police departments often times can’t afford with their budgets.

The Duluth Police Department currently has 38 sets of active shooter gear for a department of 155 officers.

"We're thankful that some of us have it. At this point I think they’re trying to have all of us equipped with this gear,” Pitzel said.

"The reality is that in this day in age, we've seen school shootings, workplace shootings, and with these threats, one of the things you see in this community often is that we never thought it would happen here,” Tusken said.

The Duluth Police Department was exposed to an active shooter incident at Duluth East High School recently. Some of the officers weren't equipped with the gear. But now, there will be extra protection for them.

"We are grateful for the generosity of the community. It’s always heartwarming for us to have the community reach out and help and support us,” Tusken said.

If you are interested in donating to the effort, click here


Alejandra Palacios

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