Teton County Sheriff’s Office receives new body armor

Jake Skifstad, founder and president of Shield 616, presents Teton County Sheriff’s Office deputies with new ballistic helmets and rifle-rated body armor Monday evening at Gateway Church. Skifstad, a former Colorado Springs police officer, said he answered a call from God five years ago to begin outfitting law enforcement departments with protective armor after responding to active shooter situations in 2007 at New Life Church and in 2015 at Planned Parenthood in his hometown.

Teton County Sheriff’s Office deputies now have pricey armor that’s designed to protect them against handgun, rifle and stab threats.

Two anonymous Wyoming residents donated almost $900,000 in May 2019 to help outfit the state’s law enforcement with all-day rifle-rated armor.

Shield 616, a Colorado Springs, Colorado-based nonprofit, is now presenting those donations around the state. Teton County sheriff’s deputies got theirs Monday night at Gateway Church in Rafter J.

“We know as of tonight our first responders will be well protected,” founder and president of Shield 616 Jake Skifstad said.

Each deputy got a new ballistics helmet and “Angel Armor,” a lightweight, ceramic technology that you insert inside a soft duty vest. One plate goes on the deputy’s chest and the other on the back.

Teton County Sheriff’s Office receives new body armor

Pastor Aaron Wronko prays for members of the Teton County Sheriff’s Office and their new ballistic helmets and body armor Monday evening at Gateway Church. Two anonymous donors made possible the roughly $62,000 purchase, which will outfit 46 members of the sheriff’s office staff with armor designed to protect against common AK-47, 5.56 and .308 rifle rounds.

The sets cost about $1,340 for each deputy. Teton County received 46 of them, Sgt. Trevor Aitken said.

“This technology is super expensive, so there’s no way we’d be able to pay for it ourselves,” Aitken said.

The department has rifle-rated armor already, but it weighs about 30 pounds and is about to expire.

“The shelf life on this type of equipment is five years,” Aitken said. “This will supplement some outdated gear.”

The old steel armor is kept in the back of patrol cars and deputies insert it when they respond to calls where there’s an armed suspect.

Teton County Sheriff’s Office receives new body armor

Teton County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Todd Stanyon fits a new ceramic Angel Armor plate into his soft duty vest. The plates are much lighter than the aging steel plates the sheriff’s office now uses.

The ceramic armor is designed for deputies to be able to wear all day. It weighs less than 5 pounds.

“The value in this gear is something I could never put in my budget and get pushed through commission,” Sheriff Matt Carr said. “But it allows protection for the men and women who serve our community.”

Carr said the equipment is no more tactical than what the department already has. It’s just more functional.

“Almost everyone in Wyoming has a gun,” Carr said.

Skifstad created Shield 616 after serving about 14 years on the Colorado Springs Police Department. He said the idea came to him after responding to the 2007 New Life Church mass shooting and the 2015 Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood mass shooting.

“When you get those calls you think the worst-case scenario,” Skifstad said.

Almost every member of the Teton County Sheriff’s Office attended Monday night’s presentation. About 35 friends, family and church members were also there and gave deputies a standing ovation when they stood in a line to accept their new gear.

“This is overwhelming,” Carr said. “When you walk into a room like this and you see the love and generosity put forth from the community, it’s invigorating.”

Teton County Sheriff’s Office receives new body armor

Lynne Wagner speaks with Teton County sheriff’s Deputy Janalynn McKay following a donation of protective armor at Gateway Church. Wagner, whose husband John LaBrec retired from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office, was one of about 35 community members who attended the presentation.

Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or courts@jhnewsandguide.com.

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