County, Hardwire Partner On Armor Shields

SNOW HILL — Through a partnership with Hardwire, LLC, Worcester County has added nearly 100 pieces of armor in the form of special clipboards and shields that will be dispersed throughout county facilities.

The shields are designed to be lightweight, mobile and to blend in so to look natural in their environment.

It’s an unfortunate fact of the times that mass shootings happen, said Hardwire CEO George Tunis. But it’s a danger that Hardwire wants to mitigate in Worcester by equipping county employees with some protection from gunfire.

The company will be providing 91 armored shields and clipboards for use in schools, the courthouse, the tax assessment office and government building. Tunis compared the devices to fire extinguishers in that you never want to have to use one but always want one nearby.

“We used to have a bad fire problem. We now have a bad gunfire problem,” he told the County Commission Tuesday.

Also, like fire extinguishers, the shields are built to look as if they naturally belong in a room so as not to be off-putting or distracting.

“A big part of this is making it blend in so that it doesn’t look militarized,” said Tunis, “so that it looks as innocuous as a well-disguised fire extinguisher but well-labeled.”

The armor would be simple to use and completely defensive. That’s one of the reasons that armored devices are so safe and popular, noted Tunis. Unlike guns, they can’t return fire against a shooter but crossfire can be potentially dangerous and at the very least means more bullets in the air. But with the shields and clipboards bullets are being stopped. As Tunis put it, they are “being removed from the equation.”

“But the point is that it doesn’t shoot back. We haven’t added ammunition,” he said. “We haven’t added bullets to a really bad equation … The best thing about this is it’s a bullet subtraction. It’s the minus sign in the equation.”

Each member of the County Commission received an armored clipboard and each School Resource Officer will receive a shield. Through the public-private partnership, the county only had to pay $12,000 for the 91 pieces with Hardwire offering a $12,000 match.

Hardwire has also partnered with private groups in the county, providing 52 pieces of armor for the Shorebirds’ stadium. Tunis revealed that the company is working on a series of other projects, which could eventually make it to Worcester.