POCOMOKE – Employees at a local armor manufacturing company this week were able to meet three officers saved by the products they made at the Pocomoke-based facility.
On Wednesday, Hardwire LLC, in partnership with Safariland, the company’s distributor, joined employees and local officials to recognize three police officers who were saved by Hardwire’s body armor technology. CEO George Tunis said their stories highlight Hardwire’s mission to improve the survivability of humans.
“This is why we do what we do,” he said. “These officers came home to their families at the end of a traumatic day where their lives almost paid the final price. The work we do at Hardwire day in and day out matters. It keeps families together. It keeps people safe. There is no greater reward than that.”
Each week, Hardwire produces enough armor to equip 1,000 police officers and more than 4,500 military personnel. And on Wednesday, three officers shared harrowing stories of life-threatening incidents and the gear that saved them.
Philadelphia Police Department Officer Donald Murdoch said he was part of a SWAT unit sent to serve an arrest warrant at a suspected drug lab when he was placed in the line of fire. During the breach, the suspect started shooting through the wall and at officers gathering on the staircase.
“I was standing in the hallway thinking, ‘Did I just get shot?’” he said.
While he was struck once in the chest, Murdock said the round was stopped by his Hardwire gear.
“People thank police officers all the time for what we do,” he said. “I wouldn’t be standing here talking right now if it wasn’t for you guys.”
Philadelphia Police Department Officer Thomas Fitzpatrick also shared his experience. While serving a homicide warrant last fall, the assailant began firing at officers from inside a living room.
“Immediately, two or three go down,” he recalled. “One was hit in the hip, and one was hit in the leg, below their body armor. I got hit in the upper chest area.”
Fitzpatrick said he was sent to the hospital and released that same day.
“My oldest, who’s 23 years old, who can’t stand affection, comes into the hospital trauma room and jumps on the bed and gives me a hug,” he said. “At that moment, I knew that I’m here because someone here saved me that day. Thank you very much.”
Sgt. Kevin Creed of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina said Hardwire equipment also saved his life during a search of a mobile home last October. There, he said, a murder suspect shot at him from behind a closet door.
Outfitted with a throat protector, Creed said the gear stopped a bullet from entering his neck. Because of that equipment, he said, he survived.
“Thanks to you all, people who are way smarter than me to make this stuff, I’m able to pin my oldest son’s badge on him Friday when he walks up on stage at the police academy,” he said. “And I’m still here for my 11-year-old.”
The three officers were inducted this week into the Safariland SAVES Club, which honors officers who, in the line of duty, experienced a life-threatening incident in which their Safariland armor or gear saved their lives.
Joined by Hardwire and Safariland representatives – and command staff from both Philadelphia and Aiken County, S.C. – Murdoch, Fitzpatrick and Creed were also recognized with plaques, SAVES Club coins and citations, presented by Sen. Mary Beth Carozza.
“We’re a little raw here on the Eastern Shore because we’ve had a couple of our law enforcement officers brutally murdered,” she said. “So when we can come to an event today where we have saves … to be able to be here today and recognize that, I thought it was important the state of Maryland honor these police officers.”