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Bedford man creates bulletproof panel for kids' backpacks

Bedford man creates bulletproof panel for kids' backpacks (Image 1) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BEDFORD, Va. (WSLS 10) - Norvell West got into the body armor business in Bedford nine years ago when a friend, a police officer, told him their protective gear was too bulky. He created CW Armor, making law enforcement and military grade vests and other gear.

Another friend in law enforcement later asked about bulletproof backpacks for his children.

"After unfortunately, a tragedy around a school, sales on the internet, we just almost can't keep up with demand," West said.

He and his business partner came up with a plate that slides into the front pocket of a backpack. They can go in either way, he says and can't be put in wrong. West says at 12 ounces, it's the lightest you'll find.

"This plate will stop all pistol, all pistol ammunition. Even if the person is this close to you," explained West. 

It's a reality West's wife, Erin McKee says she can't ignore.

"It was hard for me to put that in my child's backpack the first day of school as I was putting in crayons and markers and construction paper," Erin said. 

While kids practice lockdown drills, Erin says her children are taught to play hide and seek, behind their backpack.

"They're taught if somebody enters the school, just to put the backpack in front of their face," explained West. "Or to ball up with the backpack on their back."

There are other options as well. West makes plates you can turn into clipboards or put into a iPad case. There are also plates large enough for a briefcase, starting at $100.

Erin says some call her paranoid, she says she's prepared.

"It's a small town, but the way I looked at it too was Sandy Hook was a small town too. I just don't want to take any chances."

It's one more layer of protection she says, to keep kids safe.