Products / Owner Info / Press Coverage / FAQ
Products / Owner Info / Press Coverage / FAQ
COMPANY INFO, PRODUCTS & SERVICES
As a veteran-owned small business, we employ 37 hardworking people out of a 9,000 square foot headquarters in Livonia, Michigan. Our success is a direct result of our employees’ commitment to the satisfaction of our loyal, lifelong customer base. Our reputation and industry longevity have allowed us to form long lasting partnerships with our suppliers and vendors who help us keep our customers happy. As a manufacturer, wholesaler, training provider, and retailer, our little business keeps a lot of irons in the fire that must constantly be tended to for our company to grow. On April 15, 2021, CMI will have been in business for 25 years and we have no doubt that we will be around another 25 years so long as we keep our customers happy while we provide them with the skills and equipment that they need to save lives.
Products and Services
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Our founder and owner, Jeff Felts, started CMI to solve problems related to law enforcement equipment and training. He proudly served our country as a soldier in the U.S. Army from 1984 to 1996 in both active and reserve duty capacities. At the end of his military career, he had attained the rank of Sergeant First Class (E-7) and was serving as an infantryman and a Senior Drill Sergeant in a reserve basic training unit. Jeff also earned an associate degree in 1997 from Schoolcraft College in criminal justice, is a 1999 graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command and earned a bachelor’s degree from Northwood University in business management in 2003.
In 1991, Jeff started his service in civilian law enforcement as an officer and sergeant in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth Township. During that time, he served on a multi-jurisdictional SWAT Team in a part-time capacity, as an operator, sniper, and sniper team leader.
Jeff graduated from basic police sniper school in 1992 under the instruction of the legendary Marine Corps Sniper, Carlos Hathcock. Jeff found it fascinating that this humble, iconic, military hero credited the information gleaned from his data book as a major factor in his success on the battlefield. A data book is a compilation of shooting information a sniper uses to increase the odds of a first-round hit. To this day, Jeff attributes his desire to become more educated, more dedicated to the profession, and more confident in taking calculated risks to the example set by Carlos Hathcock.
The Sharpshooters® Rifle Rest
Jeff learned firsthand the consequences of flawed training and equipment when he was involved in two separate shootings in early 1990’s. The results of these events were invaluable lessons being learned and an insatiable quest to improve law enforcement firearms training and equipment.
In one of the above incidents Jeff responded to a hostage rescue operation where the suspects had robbed a bank, fled, shot at pursuing cops, and then took a family hostage in their home. During this operation and many others, Jeff quickly learned that the police sniper was rarely in a prone shooting position and needed to be able to elevate the rifle on a stable platform to observe and shoot accurately. However, no commercial product existed to do this. This inspired the creation of CMI’s first product in 1995, the Sharpshooters® Rifle Rest. CMI was among the very first commercial rifle rest manufacturers to the market, as is attested to in this October 1999 issue of Tactical Shooter Magazine. Today, everyone under the sun in the tactical shooting sports or the sniping profession runs some sort of rifle rest that mounts to a tripod. CMI is very proud to have played a role in starting that trend.
CMI is Born
In 1996, Jeff started Center Mass® to create equipment and training that would forever improve the police profession. Today, the Center Mass® brand is known by law enforcement officers nationwide. CMI-created equipment and training has been used with great success by our nation’s most elite military units, federal, state, county, and municipal law enforcement agencies.
CMI’s success has not been without bumps in the road. As a soldier and police officer with no business experience or education, Jeff found his fledgling company quickly failing due to cash flow issues. In 1997, he sought to correct that by becoming the first dealer of the SWAT Operator® Insignia. Jeff put the insignia on a new platform called the “internet” and CMI’s cash flow problems were solved virtually overnight. CMI has since bought all rights to this insignia and designed many other insignias currently worn by law enforcement officers worldwide. Eventually, the Sharpshooters® Rifle Rest sold into the military and CMI was off to the races.
CMI expanded in 1998 by starting Center Mass® Training Institute (CMTI) for law enforcement clients. Our first course offerings were a patrol rifle instructor school, what we believe was the very first commercial active shooter response school in the nation, and a basic police sniper school.
CMTI Sets the Standard
In 1999, Jeff was attending Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff & Command. CMTI featured an active shooter response class that was, for its time, extremely cutting edge. During Staff & Command School, the Columbine Massacre occurred, and debate raged amongst fifty of Metro Detroit’s highest-ranking police officials. Throughout this debate, Jeff advocated a new approach that required a more aggressive response by rifle-armed patrol officers to interdict and stop these mass killings faster. Jeff’s concept was sternly rejected by nearly all of his classmates, but he held his ground. A year later, CMTI’s model for active shooter response became the accepted standard by many police agencies throughout the State of Michigan and beyond. CMTI is proud to have been one of the leaders who helped change the paradigm of how law enforcement responds to active shooters.
In 2000, Jeff created a one-day local patrol rifle competition as a means for individual law enforcement officers and their organizations to test their readiness for active shooter and other types of violent incidents. The competition quickly expanded from a local/regional event into one that is now attended by first responders throughout the country. In 2006, the patrol rifle competition changed its name to the National Patrol Rifle Conference (NPRC). In 2018, CMI's crown jewel event, the National Patrol Rifle Conference changed its name to the National Patrol Rifle Championships© and partnered with a growing 3-year-old event known as the North American Active Assailant Conference. Since both organizations serve the same core mission of saving lives, it made sense to collaborate by leveraging their combined resources and experience to better serve all professions that respond to the violence in our communities. Today, these events draw 2,000+ first responders and provide one of the industry’s largest vendor shows.
In 2002, CMTI instructors wrote a white paper on patrol rifle training, policy, and equipment for the law enforcement profession. The work was donated to the National Tactical Officers Association who sold copies of it for years to assist police agencies across the nation with standing up this new rifle concept (replacing the shotgun with the rifle). Today, nearly every law enforcement agency in the nation conducts active assailant training and deploys patrol rifles and we are happy to have played a part in that progression. Also, in 2002, Jeff began helping solicit police sniper utilization surveys to assist the fledgling American Sniper Association in gathering data about real police sniper shootings. This work resulted in the 2005 release of the compiled report that helped debunk assumptions while giving police snipers and their agencies information that could be used to justify training, equipment, and policy.
CMI Continues to Innovate & Expand
While working the street, teaching patrol rifle schools, and at the NPRC, Jeff noticed throughout the early 2000s that many patrol officers either did not carry a second patrol rifle magazine or did so in a haphazard manner. In 2007, Jeff began development of the Patrol Rifle Integrated Magazine Pouch. The product was a finalist for the most innovative product award at its launch during the 2009 Shot Show. Today patrol officers throughout the nation use the patented Patrol Rifle Integrated Magazine Pouch in conjunction with their pistol magazine pouches, tourniquets, or electronic control devices. In addition, in late 2021, CMI will be launching a MOLLE compatible version of the Patrol Rifle Integrated Magazine Pouch for use on external body armor.
In 2008, Jeff settled a whistleblower lawsuit and resigned in good standing from his police agency. Turning his full-time attention to training and business development, Center Mass® experienced explosive growth in 2009 and 2010. In December 2010, CMI purchased its first commercial property with the intent of eventually expanding into the civilian firearms market.
In 2011, Jeff returned to the police profession to finish the final three years that he needed to secure his pension. He proudly served as a police officer for the City of Wayne (Detroit suburb) and honorably retired on October 24, 2014.
In June of 2012, the renovations of the property CMI purchased in December 2010 were completed and the business transitioned into the 9,000-sqare foot facility. This change allowed Center Mass® to begin sharing its collective knowledge on shooting, safety, and the use of deadly force with the citizens of Metro-Detroit.
In 2013, Jeff embarked on a project he had wanted to implement for the public safety profession since 1999 and began design on a risk management software, Force LMS. Force LMS saves public safety organizations enormous amounts of time and money by giving them the detailed information that they need to improve officer performance, save lives, and obliterate many training-related lawsuits. He combined his unique experiences as an officer, a police supervisor, entrepreneur, whistleblower, and as a trainer in the military and law enforcement with extensive research to develop the most comprehensive training documentation and liability management software on the market. The product launched in January 2015 and by June 2017, Jeff sold his rights to the developer.
As an extension of the NPRC, in 2018 Jeff created and instituted a Patrol Rifle Engagement Survey to begin the process of gathering data on officer involved patrol rifle shootings. We believe that the cumulative data derived from these individual surveys will yield facts where assumptions currently exist. This information will prove invaluable as it relates to the justification of certain types of patrol rifle training, equipment, and policy. It could also be beneficial to an organization’s defense in the aftermath of a patrol rifle officer involved shooting.
In 2019, CMI’s manufacturing arm developed insignia to help build esprit de corps among all the stakeholders who impact life and death outcomes for victims of crime, terrorism, and mother nature herself. From patrol officers who risk their lives, to the fire and medic personnel making entry to administer medicine in dangerous places, to the definitive health care professionals, our mission is the same: to save lives. One team, one mission, one unifying symbol. Rescue Task Force© and SWAT Medic©.
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Media contact/Requests: Center Mass Main Email at CenterMass@centermassinc.com.