A pilot program between the Maryland State Police and a Pocomoke City armor manufacturer is aiming to provide another layer of protection for state troopers.
Hardwire LLC, in conjunction with Gov. Larry Hogan and the state police, announced Monday, June 5 a pilot initiative to test its “Police Vehicle ‘B-Kit’ Door Armor,” on state law enforcement vehicles.
The armor is ranked at level 3 or 3A+ protection — which is designed to protect against ballistics from either rifles or handguns and shotguns, respectively — while remaining unobtrusive, according to Emily Tunis, president and chief operating officer of Hardwire.
“Over the past decade, Hardwire has mostly done armor for the military, specifically for military ground vehicles,” Tunis said. “For military applications, armor such as this was typically bulky on the outside of the vehicle. However, for law enforcement we’ve adapted it to non-military vehicles.”
The armor is a very lightweight, inconspicuous material, designed to blend in and be less noticeable than its military counterpart, and is available for numerous vehicle types including the Ford Interceptor, Impala, Taurus, Chevy Van, Charger and others, Tunis said.
Two marked state police vehicles — Ford Explorers — have had armor installed to date, with another 10 slated for possible outfitting in the near future. The cost was $1,986 per vehicle.
Greg Shipley, spokesperson for the Maryland State Police, said testing of various new technologies such as this is something his agency is doing on a constant basis, and that they'd be evaluating various factors before deciding to commit to armoring more vehicles.
"We'll certainly be looking at the cost-benefit analysis, the ease and ability to equip our vehicles and of course how they wear and whether there's any chipping or other failure," he said.
A history of local protection
This isn’t the first time Hardwire has provided the region with similar ballistics armor.
In 2016, the company designed a shield featuring a display of the Seacrets spiced rum logo to be used in the event of a riot or shooting and capable of stopping handgun and shotgun fire.
In 2014, Hardwire provided the Worcester County government with dozens of bulletproof clipboards and shields to public buildings, to be used in the event of an attack by an armed assailant.
The products were provided to the county at a 50 percent discount.
“We have now made our commissioners the safest commissioners,” Hardwire Founder and CEO George Tunis said at the time. “It’s a bullet subtraction. We’re taking bullets out of the equation. We’re giving America a chance to fight back.”