By Cheri Lane
Last Wednesday was an exciting day at the Navarro County Courthouse, as local non-profit, Going Ballistic, presented special ballistic shields to Navarro County law enforcement.
Four rifle-resistant ballistic shields were given, as NCSO Sheriff, Elmer Tanner and Corsicana Chief of Police, Robert Johnson, each accepted two shields for their respective departments.
Going Ballistic was founded by Donna Carter, President, who was alarmed following the 2022 shooting in Uvalde. Carter, as a local resident and mother, began asking questions to see how prepared her community was for such an event. She was even more disturbed with the information she uncovered. To her dismay, Carter discovered that many rural counties do not even have the necessary equipment to protect lives in an active shooter situation. Carter asks, “Did you know that law enforcement did not have rifle resistant ballistic shields in Uvalde?” She said, “After the Uvalde incident, I called Matt and we decided to do something about it, and that idea has snowballed into what is it now.” She referred to Matt Cawthon, who is her brother-in-law, a retired Texas Ranger, and now Vice-President of Going Ballistic. Cawthon has served more than 32 years in law enforcement, working all from patrol car to administration. Cawthon enthusiastically joined Carter in creating Going Ballistic. Together, they took responsibility to create a way for private citizens to join together to provide needed protection for the law enforcement and citizens in rural areas. Carter stated, “There is power in numbers, and as citizens with the initiative to do something about it, we can give back to the community and protect those in shooter situations.” She elaborates, “This is not about politics. No politics here (just no cheating!)” No matter what the political preference, law enforcement need adequate protection to handle active shooter or barricade situations.
Nightmare situations happen without warning. From an active shooter, to a warrant arrest leading to barricade, at any given moment on the street, law enforcement must be prepared. Without the right equipment, lives will be lost. The recent shootings in both Uvalde and Allen involved high-powered rifles. First responders or patrol units in small or rural agencies may not have time to wait for a well-equipped SWAT team or armored vehicle to arrive with tactical gear to withstand a rifle round. Active shooter trainings require officers to engage and confront the situation without regard to shield rating. All but one of the shields used for protection in the Uvalde shooting were not rated for gunfire. The one rifle-resistant shield available was used to provide cover which enabled the shooter to be killed.
The mission of Going Ballistic is to get rifle-resistant ballistic shields and helmets into the communities that need them most. Rifle-rated shields are commonly used by SWAT teams, but in critical moments involving an active shooter, rural law enforcement are typically the first to arrive on the scene and are rarely equipped with such protection. Small agencies often do not have the budget to fund new expensive equipment, and each rifle-rated shield costs approximately $5,600.
Navarro County District Attorney, Will Thompson, explained, “The funding for these shields was provided by a third from private funding, a third from the Navarro Community Foundation, and a third from the DA forfeiture account.” Thompson expressed gratitude for the use of these funds going towards a project that saves lives and helps protect our community in an active shooter situation. The use of these funds was approved by the City Council in their June meeting. The plan is to have one in the vehicle of every shift leader.
Going Ballistic acquired the private funding from their recent Going Ballistic Bash, raising over $30,000 last July towards shields. The special shields are manufactured by HighCom Armor, who are partnering with the organization by providing a discounted rate. In June, the first ballistic shields were presented to Freestone County Sheriff, Jeremy Shipley, and now these four shields have been awarded to Navarro County. Carter stated, “I hope this collaboration serves as a pilot for how successfully funds can be obtained to provide multiple shields.”
Chief Johnson expressed much gratitude for the new shield. He stated, “I can’t express how much this means to us. The city and county do a great job of making sure we have everything we need to do our jobs, but the even better technology and protection from these shields will save lives.” Johnson and Tanner both discussed the evolving need to be prepared with advanced technology to be safe, and to keep the community safe, from gunfire. Sheriff Tanner shared, “I have witnessed the evolution in process, and all transitions are toward better equipment to suppress the criminal element.” He stated, “These shields are capable of stopping a rifle round.”
Among those in attendance at the courthouse ceremony were NCSO Captain Jeramy Phillips, NSCO CID LT. Clint Andrews, NCSO Captain Melanie Cagle, CPD Assistant Ron McGaha, NC Constable Dan Williams, Freestone County Sheriff, Jeremy Shipley, Corsicana Mayor, Mike Fletcher, along with many other grateful supporters and citizens.
Going Ballistic has upcoming plans to seek resources to help more than 190 rural Texas communities, all of which have been identified by the organization as not having a rifle-rated ballistic shield nor the funds to obtain one. For more information about Going Ballistic, or to join their cause and become a partner, visit their website at goingballistic.org.