are lightweight protection devices deployed by police
and some military
organizations. Most are a clear polycarbonate
, though some are constructed of light metals with a view hole. Riot shields
are almost exclusively long enough to cover an average sized man from the top of the head to the knees. Some riot shields are designed to be bullet resistant
against low velocity handgun
ammunition, but most are not. They are generally intended to be used in Riot control
, to protect the user from shrapnel
, thrown projectiles, and splash from various weapons such as a Molotov cocktail
Riot shields are used in almost every country with a standardised police force and are produced by many companies. Many riot shields are constructed from clear transparent high impact plastic to enable the bearer to see incoming thrown objects, so that the shield can quickly be positioned to deflect them away from the user's body.
Varieties of riot shields
Riot shields can come in various shapes, including:
- Round. A common size is 2 feet diameter.
- Rectangular with rounded corners, curved in the horizontal cross-section to shed thrown objects. A common size is 20 or 24 inches by 3 feet. Some are tall enough for the bottom edge to be put on the ground.
- The same, but also curved in the vertical cross-section at the top and bottom.
- There is a type of shield which is curved horizontally the "wrong" way, i.e. concave forwards. These are for handling an uncooperative prisoner or suspect in a cell or small room.
- Some shields are "ballistic", i.e. strong enough to resist firearms fire.
Handle arrangements include:
- A common type is two large vertical handles at the same level: the user puts an arm (usually the left arm) through the arch of one handle and holds the other handle.
- Mótmæli vörubílstjóra 1.jpg shows another type: the middle of the shield is built-up at the back, with two valleys crossing in X shape, and a grab handle in a hollow at the top end of each valley, and a forearm-restrainer arch astride each valley below the crossing. The user puts one forearm along one of the valleys, grasping the handle at its top. (This allows use with either arm.) This spreads the load of a heavy impact on the shield front more effectively across the user's forearm. (For two-handed use, the other hand could grasp the unused forearm-restrainer arch.)
- A tall rectangular riot shield can have three handles: the first type of two handles, and also a small third lower handle for two-handed holding if a firmer grip is needed (e.g. for pushing rioters or demonstrators back): see the left edge of this image
A type that must be held in both hands does not let the user use a baton or gun in the other hand.
Riot shields are commonly used for protection from thrown objects or blunt/edged weapons, and not firearms.
Ballistic shields are commonly known by the brand names "Body Bunker" and "Baker Batshield".
The extremely lightweight "Baker Batshield" ballistic shield is popular for police patrol first responders utilizing progressive "Immediate Action Rapid Deployment" (IARD) tactics when approaching high powered handgun, shotgun or sub-machine-gun threats.
"Body Bunker" ballistic shields are opaque with a small clear armored sight window and commonly have a bright light mounted on the frontal surface. Bunker shields are not normally used by riot police but more often tactical SWAT teams as they are bulky, heavy and designed to be used during slow, methodical operations where there is an elevated risk of firearms being used against the officers.
In a dynamic entry
situation, a team of special police, such as SWAT
try to clear a room quickly and decisively. For example one member would smash the door open with a battering ram
, then step aside as the first team member wielding the shield entered the room and protected the door. The other team members would enter behind him and take control of the room.
tactics vary between different police and military Forces the world over. Generally riot shields are used to protect the user from thrown objects and projectiles and interlinked with others to form a physical barrier against rioters/protesters etc. However, in extreme situations they have been seen used to push protesters back.
Riot shields are often used in SWAT-based TV shows and films. They may also be used in a video game to make the players character more resistant to small arms fire.
Riot shields are often considered as a highly collectible "ironic" fashion item especially with the punk and Neo-punk scene.
There have been cases of demonstrators trying to imitate police shield tactics, as in this image.
High impact riot shields are often made using an RlCb30 constructor (Resistible light and Compactable Barrier constructor) this is effectively a polymer loom which knits together many layers of fibre. This creates a highly impenetrable layer, resistant to almost all small arms fire. The latest models of the RlCb30 are often used to make light aircraft parts as the RlCbL13 can be used to form almost any polymer into any thing.