COURTESY PHOTO
Sheriff Allen (left) and Captain Sean Wilkin (right) received bullet-proof ballistic shields the first week of June, which are issued to each patrol shift so they are always available to deputies in critical situations.
COURTESY PHOTO Sheriff Allen (left) and Captain Sean Wilkin (right) received bullet-proof ballistic shields the first week of June, which are issued to each patrol shift so they are always available to deputies in critical situations.
WINNEMUCCA — Proper gear is crucial to the protection of both the public and the officers protecting the public, which is why the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) is consistently working to enhance their training and quality of equipment. Each patrol shift at the HCSO has been issued protective ballistic shields to have at least one on shift with them at all times, which increases the safety of deputies and adds another layer of protection against lethal threats, according to Humboldt County Sheriff, Mike Allen. 

“We are continually assessing the needs of our agencies to bring in the best equipment available to better protect the community,” said Sheriff Allen. 

HCSO deputies respond to multiple calls a day and are not always sure of the degree of the situation that they are called to handle may escalate to. Having these shields allows officers to go into a situation—like those including active assailant incidents, victim or officer rescue, barricaded subjects, or any other situation where there is an active threat to the public or law enforcement officers—prepared to the full extent that is necessary. An officer is also more likely to be able to do their job if they feel safe. Rational decision making and boldness is crucial in a field that requires one to make split-second decisions, often times for the sake of another. 

“This will give our deputies another layer of confidence when going into these volatile situations,” added Sheriff Allen.  

These shields, which are made of a kevlar base, like the vests that all on-call deputies are required to wear, are bullet-proof, and only weigh 8.3 pounds, according to Captain Sean Wilkin, who is also the Commander of the Office Patrol Division of the HCSO. 

Wilkin explained that the shields are designed to be used by any and all officers. 

“They are extremely practical,” said Wilkin, and “These ballistic shields will provide added protection to deputies and the public, especially when following the protocol of immediately entering a dynamic situation such as an active assailant. This equipment benefits deputies when they are following the training, policies, and procedures currently in place at the HCSO,” said Wilkin . 

The shields will ultimately allow officers to respond rapidly, with the added confidence that the shields will protect them. 

“We go in to stop the threat, we don’t wait for special response teams to arrive,” said Sheriff Allen. 

The faster the officers are able to respond and stop a dangerous situation, the safer the community is. Officers are required to have proficient training for using the shields, because they do modify the way the deputies handle their guns in the types of dangerous situations in which they are used. The officers go from having two hands on their weapon, to having one hand holding their shield, and one hand holding their gun, according to Sheriff Allen.  

“Once the shields came in, it became mandatory for each of the shifts to run through specifically active assailant scenarios and officer rescue scenarios with the shields, so that way they’re getting practice in a controlled-training environment,” said Wilkin. 

Having the proper equipment and the proper training with the equipment will allow deputies to handle calls that can be both very dangerous and very anarchic. 

The decision to purchase the shields was made in January of 2022, but the current supply chain issues delayed the delivery of the shields until the first week in June and the HCSO plans to purchase two more in the following budget cycle, according to the HCSO.

“Since making this decision, we have seen numerous events in our county where deputies and officers need the best equipment available. By providing the appropriate equipment and enhancing safety while responding to threats, we are taking the necessary steps to protect our community,” said Sheriff Allen. 

Recently the HCSO has applied for a grant to purchase more gear to equip officers with, as well as to help them work with other agencies. The grant is for 32,000 dollars to purchase protective and breaching equipment for a special response team, “that protects us, the city of Winnemucca, as well as Pershing and Lander County,” said Wilkin.