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Orlando officers ballistic helmet reopens debate on military-style police equipment

Posted at 6:51 PM, Jun 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-16 23:13:38-04

Orlando police say the ballistic helmet worn by an officer shot while responding to the Pulse nightclub shooting Sunday helped prevent the officer's death. 

Police Chief John Mina tweeted that the officer was not seriously injured and “the Kevlar helmet saved his life.” 

The office may also have a Cleveland-based company to thank. 

Team Wendy has been the sole provider of standard issue pad systems and retention systems for the Army and US Marine Corps for the last decade. 

CEO Jose Rizo-Patron says its more than likely the padding system that was in the Orlando officer’s helmet came from Team Wendy. 

“To have this sort of technology available obviously, in this case, has proven to be quite beneficial,” Rizo-Patron told newsnet5.com. 

Team Wendy has provided millions of ballistic pad systems and thousands of helmets to men and women in uniform across the world. They also supply state and local law enforcement agencies and search and rescue teams with the protective equipment. 

Rizo-Patron said his company tries to stay out of the political debate surrounding police and military-style equipment. 

Police in Ferguson and Baltimore were criticized for responding to protests with military gear and vehicles. 

President Barack Obama later announced a ban on the sale of some military equipment to local police departments in May 2015. 

“It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message,” he said in a press conference in Camden, New Jersey.

Cleveland even saw its own protests after the city released requests for bids on riot gear and batons for the RNC. 

But some argue that the images of the Orlando officers punctured helmet emphasize the importance of police having military-style protective gear in particular. 

“I think that it’s certainly prudent in the world that we’re in today and the uncertain times that the right gear is offered to our folks who are first responders,” Rizo-Patron told newsnet5.com. “To be honest with you, they deserve no less.”

Hundreds of Team Wendy’s helmets are in the hands of emergency responders in Northeast Ohio and could be spotted at July’s Republican National Convention.