Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Shield616 provides gear to law enforcement

 

Lois E. Johnson

Sergeant Mike McNulty, on left, of the Moose Lake Police Department, wears the gear that will protect him against rifle rounds at the Shield616 presentation on Thursday. With him is Kevin Skifstad of Shield616, the non-profit organization that provided the gear, funded by the Moose Lake Kiwanis Club.

Sergeant Mike McNulty of the Moose Lake Police Department was one of the law enforcement officers presented with set of protective gear that will stop rifle rounds at a ceremony in Carlton on Thursday, July 5. Twelve deputies of the Carlton County Sheriff's Office and another officer from the Cloquet Police Department were also presented with the gear.

The gear was provided by Shield616, a non-profit organization headed up by the Skifsead family.

"We are a non-profit organization based in Colorado Springs," said Jake Skifstad, Shield616 board president, at the presentation. "I was involved in two active shooter situations. One was at a church, and the other was at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado in 2015. In both of those situations, the shooter had assault rifles. One had an AR-15 and the other had an AK-47.

"I was part of the SWAT team, and when I turned my radio on after I was paged out, I could hear the officer screaming into the radio. I could hear automatic rifle fire hitting his squad car. My heart just broke for him because I knew that he had no protection against that.

"A lot of people in the community, when they see an officer wearing a vest, they don't realize that the vest is designed for handguns. They are not designed to stop rifle rounds. We as law enforcement do not have adequate protection when we are trying to do that. We are changing that."

Skifstad said Shield616 is now in 16 states and has handed out over 1,800 vests to 100 different agencies in the two and a half years of its existence.

The gear, consisting of vest, rifle armor plates, first aid kit and ballistic helmet, costs $1,400 per officer.

The organization is faith-based, and Shield616 is taken from Ephesians 6:16: "Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all of the flaming arrows of the evil one."

The program is funded by donors.

Skifstad said citizens, churches, families, membership groups and foundations are among the donors. The donors are encouraged to get to know and support their officers.

"It is so neat to see the community rally around law enforcement," said Skifstad. "To all of the financial donors that are here today, thank you. This is gear that is so needed across the nation but it is not used very often. At the bottom of law enforcement budgets are very little funds left for gear that doesn't get used every day."

Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake spoke.

"We couldn't do this without our sponsors," she said. "Just knowing that there are people out there who have our back and people out there who stand up and support us helps us do our jobs."

Sheriff Lake announced that all of the deputies will be outfitted with the gear.

"Because I wanted to get my uniformed staff outfitted with the gear, I took it out of my budget," she said. "But I couldn't do that without the support of the Carlton County Board of Commissioners."

Lois E. Johnson

Moose Lake Police Chief Bryce Bogenholm, Michelle Anderson of the Moose Lake Kiwanis, donor of the funds that purchased the gear, and Sergeant Mike McNulty, recipient of the gear.

Chief Bryce Bogenholm of the Moose Lake Police Department spoke about the importance of community support for law enforcement.

"Thank you for supporting law enforcement," he said. "It is a hard job and it is getting harder every day. I want to thank the Moose Lake Kiwanis group that sponsored a set of gear for our police department. Kiwanis is a very good partner with the community. In general, Moose Lake has a lot of support from the community. It is refreshing to work in a place where law enforcement is so well liked and respected. This gear is so needed and, unfortunately, with the times that we are in now, you just never know. Obviously, we are going to respond, putting our safety at risk, to help the public. That's what we are here for and that's our mission, to keep you all safe. This is a great tool to assist with that.

"Thank you for supporting law enforcement and the gift of the gear."

 

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