Hardwire To Donate 1,600 Shields to Area Schools
-By Bethany Hooper, MD Coast Dispatch
SALISBURY – A Pocomoke-based armor manufacturing company says it plans to donate roughly 1,600 protective shields to schools in the tri-county area following the events in Uvalde, Texas.
In a Wicomico County Council meeting Tuesday, Hardwire LLC CEO George Tunis announced his company’s plans to donate approximately 1,600 emergency response shields to schools in the tri-county region. The company’s pledge to provide $480,000 worth of active shooter protection equipment came exactly two weeks after a gunman entered an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed 19 students and two teachers.
“These are family destroying events, and we cannot let that happen in our community …,” Tunis told county leaders this week. “This is just one layer of defense.”
Tunis’s presentation to the county council was just part of a larger discussion this week on school safety and efforts to harden buildings and protect students. Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis said in the days since the Uvalde shooting, he has met with his command staff and SWAT Team operators and has made the decision to retrain and reeducate school resource officers (SROs).
“While I will not publicly disclose what that training will be – I will not publicly disclose what we intend to do – I can tell you I later received a phone call … from Mr. George Tunis and Ms. Emily Tunis,” he said. “They reached out to me on a weekend to talk about working closely with law enforcements and the boards of education in the tri-county region to better harden our schools.”
Tunis said Hardwire aims to protect students. Following the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he said the company introduced protective equipment at local private schools. And following the 2018 shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., the company introduced a pilot program at Pocomoke High School.
“We have the technology to do it, we have the means to do it, and we have rolled this out repeatedly after each shooting,” he explained.
Tunis said the plan is to donate an average of 30 shields to each school in the three Lower Shore counties, with each shield being placed next to a fire extinguisher.
School system and law enforcement officials thanked Hardwire representatives this week for the donation. They also highlighted ongoing efforts to address school safety.
“We know this is an area of huge concern, as it should be,” said Superintendent Dr. Donna Hanlin. “It is our top priority, and we are having conversations about it every day and working in partnership with the sheriff’s office through our liaisons there.”