FORT COLLINS, Colo. — City councils across the Front Range are discussing several gun control ordinances in light of recent mass shootings across the country. These range from prohibiting open-carry in Lafayette to banning assault weapons in Louisville and Boulder.
The use of assault weapons in mass shootings has police departments across the country taking more measures to protect officers. As a result, businesses specializing in protection are becoming more critical, as well.
“Being able to innovate and create products for law enforcement, for first responders and for military that save lives is incredibly valuable to us,” said Josh Richardson, co-founder of Angel Armor in Fort Collins.
While most bulletproof vests are only designed to protect against handguns, Angel Armor is different.
“We want to be able to equip them so they can protect our families every day,” Richardson said. “What we’ve done is added in a pocket and created a very light-weight rifle plate which stops against rifle threats.”
The company, founded by the same family that started Otterbox, is designing state-of-the-art vests that are lightweight and nimble, while still protecting against AR-15s and other rifles all too often used in mass shootings.
“We need to empower law enforcement officers and first responders,” Richardson said. “It’s really about the confidence when a situation does arise. Those officers know they have the protection to be able to go in and address that threat.”
The vests are not cheap. They cost more than $2,200 apiece on the high end, which is another issue for law enforcement.
“A lot of agencies struggle with getting that extra funding to purchase the rifle-rated armor,” said Jake Skifstad, a former law enforcement officer from Colorado Springs who started the nonprofit Shield 616. “In my career as a police officer, I was involved in two different active shooters.”
Both of those shootings were in Colorado Springs — the New Life Church shooting in 2007 and the Planned Parenthood shooting in 2015.
“In both of those, we went up against suspects whose only intent that day was to kill and destroy,” Skifstad said. “And they were both armed with rifles.”
Skifstad now raises money to buy Angel Armor vests and outfit departments that otherwise can’t afford them. He also makes it his mission to bring donors and officers together.
“We do what we call a vest presentation,” Skifstad said. “Those donors not only get to see where money went, but they also get to see officers receive their gift. And now you can have that one-on-one interaction that our officers really need right now, and our community really needs right now.”
The Angel Armor vests are all completely customized.
“Most vests come in small, medium and large,” Richardson said. “We fit ours like suits. We measure each officer, and then an officer’s name, badge number and details stay with that order so that it’s tracked.”
It's all in an effort to make officers more agile when responding to volatile situations.
“So they can perform at a high level and not be weighed down by the products,” Richardson said. “Every day you come to work, you’re coming to save lives.”