Armored bags not new for western South Dakota

BOX ELDER, S.D. — Back to school safety is on the mind of parents as the school year begins. While bulletproof backpack sales are surging across the country, some people in western South Dakota have been retrofitting bags with similar gear for years.

Bulletproof backpacks are not new to the market, having been around at least a decade. The concept of “up armoring” bags isn’t new in western South Dakota either.

“These panels are surplus panels either from old military vests or law enforcement vests,” said Lt. Chris Misselt with the Box Elder Police Department. “They can be cut to shape for whatever pack you want to use them in.”

Misselt says he and several others have retrofitted bags with the bulletproof material over past years. The reason? Not the same as for the recent rise in bulletproof backpack sales.

“It’s kind of been a hobby for a number of years. Sometimes out of necessity when we didn’t have the right funding or right equipment to do what we needed to do with emergency gear,” said Misselt. “It just became something I talked to other people about who were interested in the same thing.”

The benefits, he says, could reach the community outside of law enforcement. For people in roles of security or protection that might want to be more discreet with next level safety and for a reasonable price.

“Obviously it is open for abuse but those with ill-intent but just like any mechanism for harm, it can be utilized for good or for bad,” said Misselt.

The gear can be purchased new or used both online or in stores. Military surplus stores or pawnshops can also carry the product. According to a manager of a local pawnshop, they do not sell full body armor to avoid any possible misuse.

Categories: Local News