Frank Stewart, owner of Premier Body Armor and current chair of the Gardner-Webb Board of Trustees, donated body armor systems for eight University officers during a presentation in GWU’s Tucker Student Center on June 10. Each set of gear includes a vest, lightweight front and back steel plates that conform to an officer’s body for comfortable wear and two insert plates to provide extra protection against dangerous objects.
“The vest an officer normally carries will protect against handguns, but it does not offer protection against everything,” Stewart shared. “This body armor provides extra protection against high-powered rifles and other ammunition, allowing officers to confront a situation with much more confidence.”
In the past decade, more than 500 American officers have died after suffering gunshot injuries while on duty, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, a nonprofit organization that honors and remembers the service of American law enforcement officers. Because of the danger of the profession, all efforts to increase officer safety are critical measures of support, offered Barry Johnson, GWU Chief of University Police.
“We appreciate that there are great people like Mr. Stewart who realize what we face every day as officers, with things that happen nationwide and things that can happen here at Gardner-Webb,” Johnson added. “It makes us feel good that people in the community support us and want to ensure that we are as safe as we can be.”
Stewart has worked for years to develop and deliver elite safety products, previously through companies including prime defense contractor Ultra Armoring, with specialty in design, engineering and armoring for military operations. That experience in armor fabrication and design expertise have led to the creation of the body armor equipment that Gardner-Webb University Police will now carry.
“I’m so happy to be able to do this for the University and the police officers,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, they never have to use it, but if they do it will be there.”