Police departments in Mahoning County are now equipped with a new line of defense against shooters.

The Mahoning County Commissioners used ARP funds to buy each department one ballistic shield. 

“Let's face it, over the last three or four years law enforcement has basically been under attack,” Commissioner Anthony Traficanti said to the officers receiving the shields. “...We’re here to support you, that's why this was a no brainer.”

“This might, to a lot of people, seem like a small thing but it's really not, it's for protecting those who protect us,” Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene said. 

In an active shooter situation, the shields will be used by the first officer on scene when entering a building.

“They're not going to be sure of what's in there, how dangerous it is, so we want to be able to give them the ultimate amount of protection,” Sheriff Greene said. 

The idea to buy the shields came after the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, where 19 students and two teachers were killed.

“I watched the officers put on hold in a hallway and never made entry and the active shooting continued and it really bothered the hell out of me,” Ed Villone, Commander of the Youngstown State University Police Academy said. 

With the shields, departments in Mahoning County won't have to wait for other personnel, like the SWAT team, to get to the scene to have protection to enter a building with a shooter. 

YSU President Bill Johnson and several of the commissioners spoke about how they feel mental health contributes to active shooter situations. 

“Guns don’t kill people, somebody has to pull the trigger,” Johnson said. “People with serious mental health problems kill people.”

“Our jails are full of mentally ill people, it’s wrong but we have to protect ourselves as well” Commissioner Carol Rimedio-Righetti said. “... We have to attack the issue at hand and it’s mental illness.” 

Along with the shields, some of the commissioners ARP money funded two years of active shooter training. Departments are able to sign up for the training through the YSU Police Academy and the Ohio Tactical Officers Association. More than 40 officers have already learned how to enter and clear rooms and move through hallways when there's a shooter in a building. The last of the sessions will be held in May of 2024. 

$250,000 of ARP funds will be used for both the shields and the active shooter training.