Hero Shield Program
The Hero Shield Program is one of many programs initiated by Chief Conrad Bochco for the Paragon City Police Department to bolster its ranks and to eventually reduce the reliance on superheroes. It's most famous result has been Captain Paragonna.
Chief Bochco has long been a critic of the city's reliance on superheroes, although he was forced to do just that following the First Rikti Invasion of 2002 to maintain order. To make his dream of a hero-free city a reality, Bochco approved of a wide array of projects that would create super-powered police officers.
The Hero Shield Program was based on noted police superhero Blue Steel. The idea would be to take ordinary people, give them training and education, and turn them into super-powered police officers.
The program had to meet the following requirements:
- Use ordinary (normal) people
- Give them an accelerated training program (ideally 1-2 weeks but no longer than one month)
- Utilize the best that modern science and technology can provide
- No firearms
The first successful operative would be introduced as either "Captain Paragon" or "Captain Paragonna" and would serve as the face for the rest of the recruitment program, allowing the PPD to retire Blue Steel once and for all. However, some program directors decided early that the first operatives should be female to better prove the effectiveness of the system.
The first incarnation of the program relied heavily on technology. The idea was to use cybernetic implants to provide immediate access to information and education as well as to accelerate physical abilities.
In keeping with the tradition of Blue Steel, subjects were trained in the use of shields and hand-to-hand combat.
The program proved difficult for the subjects. The most rigid of physical and metal standards were imposed, and many could not handle the burden that would be placed on them.
Finally, police cadet Bethany Barlow managed to gain the support of the evaluators and be given the opportunity to become the first Captain Paragonna.
Using CyCorp cybernetic implants, she was given sub-dermal implants to boost her physical abilities, as well as bone-plating in her forearms, hands, shins, and feet. She was also given wireless access to the police communication and mainframe network.
Unfortunately, her first field test prior to their "official announcement" proved to be a disaster. Her implants were co-opted by a rogue CyCorp Cycotron unit, and she became a danger to the department, putting several officers in the hospital, including Captain Gladstone, the project's first director.
Afterward, CyCorp took ownership of Agent Barlow and all related information.
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Following the failure of the first "Captain Paragonna", the whole project was reorganized. Deputy Chief Glenn McMillian was placed in charge of the project on behalf of the city. His focus was less on technology and more about people.
Sub-dermal implants from Crey BioMedical would enhance the subject's physical strength, speed, stamina, and recuperative powers. Enhanced memorization techniques allowed the subjects to retain essential information faster.
What was sacrificed, however, was time. To cut down on the overall training period, shields were abandoned and the idea was suggested for a heavy-Kevlar jacket, but that was not initially available due to legal conflicts between Crey Industries and The Icon. A streamlined bodysuit was then proposed designed along the same lines as a Freedom Corps outfit.
Stevie Walker-Rodgers was one of the first volunteers to successfully accomplish the enhanced training program. But her application was almost denied when program leaders discovered she was under federal Witness Protection. McMillan, however, was confident that since her civilian identity would be protected under the Citizen Crime Fighting Act, her status as a member of Witness Protection would also be secure. She made her debut as the new Captain Paragonna at the end of 2006.
The Hero Shield program was officially terminated in 2013 following the death of Deputy Chief McMillan. Agent Rodgers was promoted to the official rank of captain and put in charge of the Awakened Division.