COLORADO SPRINGS — As a former Colorado Springs police officer, SHIELD616 Founder and President Jake Skifstad, knows the most difficult challenges being a first responder brings.
Jake says, “We as law enforcement, we are expected to protect you from whatever threat there may be. If it involves a rifle, we don't have protection against that.”
In December of 2007, as a member of CSPD, Jake Skifstad says he clearly remembers the call of an active shooter at New Life Church. “You always think worst case scenario. It's a call that you don't want to see and you know you have to get in there and do your job as fast as you can to help prevent any more casualties. It's just something that you will stick with you the rest of your life if you if you have to experience it.”
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Fast forward to November of 2015 when as a member of the CSPD Swat Team on Black Friday, his pager went off for an active shooter situation, the second in two months. “When I got that page I just remember reading it and thinking, ‘You've got to be kidding me, not again.’ It was one of the worst days of my career. When you strip away that uniform, the person behind that badge is a human being just like everybody else. We just train ourselves to go against the human nature of fleeing from danger, to turn around and run towards danger.”
SHIELD616 began with a focus on law enforcement in southern Colorado. “When we started SHIELD616 we were focusing right here in Colorado Springs on my brothers and sisters in blue and I wanted to make sure that they had the best gear available to them.”
The efforts grew to include firefighters and paramedics. Jake says, “We have had a couple of very close calls for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. Thankfully, no firefighters were hit, but they were extremely close to being hit, and they were absolutely in the hot zone. We want to make sure that they're also protected.”
SHIELD616 now focuses their efforts on first responders nationwide and recently filmed a television commercial in Colorado Springs featuring local first responders. “I knew SHIELD616 would get big because we are meeting a big need that most agencies have. I could never have imagined doing commercials for ESPN as a proud partner with the First Responders Bowl in Texas.
The commercial will debut during the game on December 29th. Jake explains, “The First Responders Bowl slogan is, Great Game Greater Cause. The greater cause is they asked SHIELD616 if we would be willing to fundraise and donate the product that we use, Angel Armor vests and Revision helmets, top of the line all day rifle-rated protection for officers around the country.”
Jake says he and his staff have been very busy leading up to the game. “We're presenting vests leading up to the bowl game all across Texas, Oklahoma and here in Colorado. At the bowl game we're going to have a big celebration, and our goal is to do 616 vests, and those officers are going to come out on the field and we're going to have a celebration at halftime.”
In our next story, find out how the SHIELD616 ride border to border across Colorado got started four years ago.
Border to Border: Ride across Colorado with Team SHIELD 616
How the SHIELD616 Border to Border ride began
SHIELD616 was born out of some of the worst tragedies in southern Colorado