Our primary mission at HighCom is saving lives. As a USA manufacturer, HighCom has supplied personal protective equipment to America’s law enforcement agencies for over two decades. Because law enforcement officers depend on body armor to protect them, we are honored to be in partnership with the Safe Surfin’ Foundation to help our law enforcement brothers/sisters be better protected from those they protect us from. Safe Surfin’s “Protect the Protectors,” initiative does just that by providing critical body armor to cash strapped police agencies nationwide.
Protect the Protectors was launched after the shooting of a West Virginia State Trooper five years ago. West Virginia State Police Corporal Andrew Loudin, a husband and father of three young children, was investigating allegations of child sexual abuse when he was shot twice in the chest by the suspect. Loudin was not wearing a ballistic vest at the time of the shooting. The bullets fragmented and pierced his lungs, liver, abdomen, and diaphragm. They also came very close to his heart and the main blood vessels to his heart. The odds against Cpl. Loudin’s survival were high. The risk of dying from a gunshot wound to the torso is 3.4 times higher for law enforcement officers who do not wear armor vests according to a 2016 Congressional Research Service study. And a Police Executive Research Forum study showed that law enforcement officers who do not routinely wear body armor, risk fatal injury at a rate 14 times higher than officers who do. But Loudin beat the odds. Not only did he survive, but he later returned to work.
Many officers are not so fortunate. The FBI reports that between 2006-2015, 21,539 U.S. law enforcement officers were injured by firearms and 454 succumbed to those injuries. Thirty-two percent of the officers who were feloniously killed during that period were not wearing body armor. Body armor has been proven to save lives and help reduce injuries to officers. Since 1987, more than 3,000 law enforcement officers have survived life-threatening injuries because body armor protected them.
So why are a third of officers who are murdered not wearing body armor? Bedford County, Virginia Sheriff Mike Brown set out to answer that question after he had a conversation with Cpl. Loudin following the shooting. While there are more than 900,000 sworn law enforcement officers now serving in the United States, Sheriff Brown discovered that 236,000 police officers do not have body armor according to a RAND Corporation study. And many officers who did, possessed body armor that was well past the five-year shelf life.
What it comes down to is that many law enforcement agencies are grossly underfunded, creating a critical safety issue for those on the front lines. Sheriff Brown believes that vests are a critical resource every officer should have, and it’s hard to disagree. As a result, Brown started the “Protect the Protectors” initiative through his “Safe Surfin’ Foundation” program. Protect the Protectors collects donations to purchase and donate ballistic vests to law enforcement agencies.
Sheriff Brown organized donors from across the country and Protect the Protectors kicked off on August 2, 2013 with its first delivery of 16 body armor systems. Safe Surfin’s Protect the Protectors program has provided more than 600 new Level IIIA vests to law enforcement officers across the country. “We consider it an honor to be the exclusive body armor manufacturer for the Safe Surfin’ Foundation” said Michael Bundy, President of HighCom.
This summer, at the National Sheriffs’ Association’s (NSA) annual conference in Reno, Nevada, Sheriff Mike Brown will be the recipient of the 2017 Ferris E. Lucas Sheriff of the Year award. The award, given annually by the NSA, recognizes a sheriff who has made outstanding contributions to law enforcement, exceptional service to his community, and for his contributions to the betterment of the National Sheriffs’ Association. The Protect the Protectors initiative is among the initiatives that he is commended for. Sheriff Brown has described it as near and dear to his heart. “It’s very seldom that I’m at a loss for words, but I am. It’s an honor,” he said, referring to this award.
HighCom would like to congratulate Sheriff Mike Brown on this prestigious award. It is an honor to work with Sheriff Brown, and we are proud to be Safe Surfin’s armor supplier to his Protect the Protector’s program.