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Wednesday, November 17,2010

Heightened protection

A retired Lansing Police Department detective turns entrepreneur with new upper body shields for officers

by Andy Balaskovitz

Uniformed patrol officers can unexpectedly find themselves in the most dangerous of situations yet have no bodily protection beyond a bulletproof vest.


That’s why Jon Priebe, who spent 27 years in law enforcement in mid-Michigan — from patrolman to detective — invented the Cide Shield, a bulletproof and see-through shield that officers hold to protect themselves from assaults to the face and upper body.


“The uniformed guys on patrol sometimes have no idea what they’re walking into,” said Priebe, who retired in March. “They are in the greatest potential of danger and yet have the least amount of protective equipment. It’s just not right.”


Priebe said officers have these thoughts in the back of their minds all the time.


The triple-plated, polycarbonate acrylic Cide Shields come in two sizes. The smaller one is 1-foot wide by 20 inches high, weighs 10 pounds and comes equipped with video cameras and high-end LED lights. Most officers’ flashlights are at 180 lumens of brightness, while the Cide Shields are at 800 lumens.


Priebe said they could be effective for routine traffic stops or when responding to a scene.


A larger, heavier version of the Cide Shield — active violent incident, or AVI, shields — is meant to protect “at least a couple” of officers at a time in extreme situations, he said.


Priebe would like to see every police officer equipped with a shield, but blocking that goal is the reality of shrinking public safety budgets. The smaller shields go for $1,495 each, while the larger ones are $2,495.
“Funding is an issue,” he said.


Priebe said he has met with the Michigan State University Police Department and Lansing interim Police Chief Teresa Szymanski. He said he has a “verbal agreement” with the Battle Creek Police Department for equipping those forces.


But the money is still not there and no officers out in the field are using Cide Shields.


Lt. Daryl Green, a public information officer who has been with the LPD for 14 years, has not seen the shields, but he agrees patrolling officers face a “variety of threats.”


“The job is unpredictable,” he said. “Is this the right product? I don’t know.”


But he thinks Priebe’s idea is a good one.


“Officer safety is the number one priority when you look at the physical and mental aspect of things,” he said. “Are we able to protect ourselves so we can adequately protect the public?”


Priebe, president of Citadel Defense Technologies, 2305 N. High St. in north Lansing, has devoted his work full time to Cide Shields after retiring from the LPD. But safety is still his main concern, especially since his son Matthew is a police officer.


Three Michigan officers have been killed by gunfire so far this year. Fifty-one officers have been killed by assault or gunfire throughout the U.S. in 2010, according to the Office Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit dedicated to honoring slain officers.

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