By Shawn Chitnis
PALMER LAKE, Colo. (CBS4) – Officers from Colorado two police departments received active shooter and crowd control kits Monday.
A nonprofit called Shield 616 used donations from the community to pay for the helmets and vests for 20 officers who work for the departments in Monument and Palmer Lake.
“We both feel officers should come home safe and not be harmed because they also deserve to see their families,” said Caleb Landrum, a student heading into the fourth grade this fall. He has teamed up with Andrew Deeds, a student heading into fifth grade, to raise money for the nonprofit.
Shield 616 has given 1,800 kits to officers in 15 different states. The gear is designed to protect an officer from the bullets of a rifle. The life-saving equipment is often too expensive for departments to purchase on their own.
“Whatever our police officers come up against, whatever threat that is,” said Jake Skifstad, founder and president of Shield 616. “We want to be sure that they’re protected while they’re trying to protect us.”
The vest presentation, a tradition Shield 616 maintains each time they have enough kits for a department, took place Monday night inside the Living Word Chapel. Members of the church raised $17,000 to help pay for the kits. (Each one is valued at $2,000 but the nonprofit works with manufacturers to get the equipment down to $1,400 per set.)
“We felt like with everything that’s going on in the country,” said Jason Sayer, senior pastor at Living Word Chapel. “That we needed to have a part in helping them get some extra funding to get the gear we felt they needed.”
Landrum and Deeds have raised almost $14,000 to pay for kits as well. They hosted bake sales, went door-to-door asking for donations, and reached out to local businesses to get the money needed for 10 kits. They both were at the church for the vest presentation.
“Now we know that they’re safe. They can come home,” said Landrum. “Cops should be saved, cause they’re the ones that protect you,” added Deeds.
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Both of these young fundraisers were moved by the idea of a family not able to have one of their own return safely from work. But the people often making the difference to protect the police do not know them personally. Ceremonies like the one at the church help to change that.
“To have a stranger do that for you, it’s something, it’s almost indescribable,” said Skifstad.
The name Shield 616 comes from scripture. The organization gets its inspiration from Ephesians 6:16: “Take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” It’s a teaching from the Bible that the nonprofit interprets as an act of faith by the community, placed in the police.
“We want to have our officers have faith in this equipment that it’s going to protect them,” he said.
Both Deeds and Landrum are young enough that many may say they do not need to worry about the safety of adults. As children, they could easily spend their free time together enjoying the outdoors or playing games but they know this issue affects them directly.
“If they’re aren’t any cops, then you’re not safe, and then you can’t play at school,” said Deeds.
To learn more about the nonprofit and support local officers, visit shield616.org.