Portage police in need of new ballistic shields

PORTAGE, Wis. (WMTV) - Portage Police Chief Ken Manthey has spent 43 years with the Portage Police Department, 18 of them serving as chief.

“I’ve enjoyed every day of it,” Chief Manthey said. “We’ve got a great community here.”

Before he retires at the end of January, Chief Manthey is asking for the public’s help to raise money for several new ballistic shields.

Each shield costs about $2,700 and currently the department has two, which they keep in one of the marked cars. Ideally, Chief Manthey would want one in all seven of the Portage squad cars.

The newer design not only helps keep officers safe against bullets but also protects the officer’s body from a suspect wielding a sharp weapon.

Lieutenant Richard Hoege said the shields add an additional level of protection that the ballistic vests don’t provide.

“It’s just one level of added security for not only the city and the citizens but also for the officer,” said Lt. Hoege. “Because an officer can’t help anybody if they get hurt.”

While a bullet proof vests protect the major organs like the lungs, heart, and upper chest area, Lt. Hoege said most of the head, neck, and groin remain exposed.

Chief Manthey remembers when one of his fellow officers was shot in a situation in downtown Portage in 1979.

“Fortunately, he survived but it would have been really nice to have that shield,” Manthey said.

The new shields also allow for officers to help guide citizens to safety during an emergency situation, protecting them from assailants or bullets.

Chief Manthey said especially now, there’s a need for additional protection.

“There’s a lot of evil in this world and my officers face that evil,” said Manthey. “It can happen anywhere and anytime.”

Chief Manthey said they’ve already collection enough money for about two new ballistic shields.

Manthey won’t fully hang up his badge, but will become a police chaplain and work with a comfort dog following stepping down as chief.

To learn more about the Portage Police fundraiser, click here.