COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- A nonprofit that started in Colorado Springs is ready to make a difference across the state.
Shield 616 was the idea of former Colorado Springs police officer Jake Skifstad.
The idea came after a number of active shooter situation in Colorado Springs, and perhaps most notably, the Planned Parenthood shooting in November 2015.
Three people were killed, including an officer who responded to the call.
Skifstad responded to that call, then responded to another calling.
“We’ve got to start rallying our community around our local law enforcement. They need support, encouragement and prayer. But they also need this protection,” Skifstad said.
On Tuesday, the group helped with a vest presentation event at the Broadmoor Cheyenne Lodge.
Thirty-four officers with the Colorado Springs Police Department were given protective gear, including a vest, helmet and armor.
Every kit was donated to an officer by a sponsor. On Tuesday, sponsors got to meet the officers they are helping to protect.
“They were strangers before this, and look at the interaction happening behind us. It’s like an instant bond between the two. It’s like an instant access to our local law enforcement. And that’s what we want for the community,” Skifstad said.
Many of the officers at Tuesday night’s event have been with the department for two or three decades, including Lt. Steve Buzzell.
“When I got up there and stood up behind the protective gear, I realized what it means to me, what it means to the community and what it means to my family,” Buzzell said.
Skifstad said it’s equipment most departments cannot afford.
“Most agencies, they have to spend money on things like police cars, police officer, stuff they use every single day. That leaves very little at the bottom and that doesn’t leave very much,” Skifstad said.
Shield 616 wants to show officers support by offering them this protective gear and community support.
As of Tuesday, all Colorado Springs officers now have the protective kit. Skifstad wants to reach every department in the state.
“We get reminded over and over again why these guys need this gear,” Skifstad said.