COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Just a couple of months after a shooting left one deputy dead and three other law enforcement officers wounded, every member of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is getting new life-saving gear.
Fifty-one sets of active-shooter tactical gear were donated to deputies Monday night through the nonprofit group Shield 616.
“This is what Shield 616 is all about. It’s about rallying the local community around law enforcement,” Jake Skifstad said.
The kits include upgraded bulletproof vests, helmets and protective glasses.
“A lot of people don’t realize the vests they wear under their uniform is only designed for handguns and so we want to make sure that no matter what the threat is, they’re being protected,” Skifstad said.
Each kit costs $1,400. Shield 616 was able to raise enough money from local donors to outfit half of the deputies.
“In light of the things that have gone on this year, it is absolutely unbelievable the chills that it gives us,” El Paso County Sheriff Bill Elder said.
He said while the gear is essential to deputies in the field, it is too expensive for his office to purchase each set.
“This is just that rifle-rated stuff that’s absolutely necessary in the world we live in today. We just can’t afford to do it,” he said.
At Monday night’s presentation, individual donors were able to meet the deputy they sponsored.
“All I can say is thank you because they’re literally guardian angels,” deputy Carlos Gutierrez said.
Among the donors was a small group of 10-year-old boys, who donated more than $8,000 they raised through bake sales.
“I feel that officers deserve to go home safe and see their children after work,” fourth-grader Andrew Deeds said.
“The fact that these guys are 10 years old raising $8,000 because they feel that empowered that they need to raise money for law enforcement, that’s tremendous,” deputy Scott Stone said.
Stone was shot on the same call where fellow deputy Micah Flick was shot and killed.
“My shooting was an absolutely terrible situation,” he said. “I wish I would have had that gear on duty that day. Maybe it could have changed the outcome. Maybe it could have saved one of us.”
He said it brings tears to his eyes seeing the generosity from the community, and knowing that their donations will save lives in the future.
“It does. It gets me a little choked up,” he said. “It does my heart good to know they have just that little bit more protection on the streets.”
Stone said he has about a year of recovery ahead of him. He plans to keep fighting and once he is healthy, his goal is to return to duty.