New products to consider as you head into the new year
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Every year, vendors release new products into the law enforcement market. And every year, Law Officer helps you to separate the wheat from the chaff. Our editors have recently scoured the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) and the California Patrol Officer’s Association’s CopsWest conferences, and they have a lot of good stuff to report.
Already recognized as the worldwide leader in electronic control devices (the original M-26, the popular X-26 and gaining in popularity X-2), Taser has worked diligently over the past several years to expand their product line to include a body-worn audio/video camera system. Like many manufacturers of such devices, Taser firmly believes that documentation of officers’ actions substantially reduces liability. Interestingly, an IACP study of internal affairs investigations involving allegations of excessive use of force found that when the officer’s actions were captured on video, they were exonerated 93% of the time. Taser’s initial foray into video documentation was integrating a camera with the popular X-26. Although this found limited success, their newest stand-alone audio/video recorder appears to be rapidly gaining favor among departments that have their officers wear recording devices.
Multiple options are available for wearing the camera, including attachments to eyeglasses, motorcycle helmets, baseball-style caps, uniform shirt collar/epaulette, etc. The greatest benefit to such body-worn camera systems is that the perspective is recorded from that of the officer. The unit records just what the officer sees and hears.
Although this was actually developed years ago by a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy, whom I met and spoke with at the IACP Conference, it continues to evolve. Contained within a lightweight, compact, ballistic nylon carry case (the size of a briefcase), this is a state-of-the-art emergency management tool—with no electronic parts. It contains: a dry-erase board, clipboards, ICS (incident command system) chart, operations log, assignment chart, notifications log, NIMS (National Incident Management System) forms, command post operations forms, sign-in log and a CD with all NIMS/ICS forms, state and federal guidelines and emergency contact numbers. It also includes logs and tactical guidelines for eight critical incidents: barricades, riots, bomb threats/actual bombings, haz-mat incidents, missing persons, officer-involved shootings, natural disasters and active shooter incidents. This tool enables the incident commander to bring organization to chaotic incidents and provides for appropriate documentation to facilitate after-action reports.
This line of products runs the gamut, from relatively basic and inexpensive to top-of-the-line systems that automatically download data when the officer returns to the station. Features include multiple camera systems, wireless microphones, integrated GPS with optional back office mapping, radar/lidar options, and high-resolution video. A multitude of recording options are available, including light bar/siren activation, g-force crash sensor with pre-event recording, and other methods of manual activation.
The advantages to this type of road safety flare over the traditional pyrotechnic flare are many. First, gone are the days of officer’s uniforms being permanently damaged from the molten flare burning holes in the uniform trousers. Also gone is the great potential to accidently start a fire. Yet another benefit is the environment-friendly battery-powered flare that doesn’t emit fumes into the atmosphere or leave behind unsightly debris that ends up in storm water runoff drains. The Power Flare is lightweight, rugged (it can be driven over), stores in bulk easily in the trunk and provides high visibility to enhance officer and civilian safety.
This company manufacturers a sizeable line of life-size dummies for defensive tactics and less-lethal training, including the exceptional versatile and robust Numb John XT. The company’s been in existence for more than 50 years. In fact, one of the photos on their website depicts their training product in an actual scene from the IACP Conference in 1972! Dummies, Unlimited prides itself on manufacturing extremely durable, long-lasting training mannequins, which reduce training costs and liability, and improve training. Over 6,000 departments currently use their equipment. The variety offered includes models capable of training specific tactics and techniques (such as arm-bar take-downs, carotid restraints, etc.). Other models allow impact with both 12-gauge and 40 mm extended range kinetic energy impact munitions (“less-lethal”) or Taser probes.
North American Rescue’s Individual Patrol Officer Kit
NAR provides a plethora of life-saving equipment to the military, EMS and law enforcement communities. Ranging from self-applied tourniquets to full-blown team trauma kits including traction kits and stretchers, North American Rescue is one of the leading suppliers in this arena. Their mission statement (“Our mission is to provide solutions that have a direct correlation to decreasing preventable death in tactical medicine and rescue”) and product line are consistent with Law Officer’s Below 100 initiative. Given the fact that blood loss from penetrating wound (such as those from a gun or knife) and other traumatic injuries (automobile accidents, etc.) is the number one cause of preventable death in a tactical environment, I firmly believe all officers should be issued and trained to deploy the two basic life-saving items found in this kit: a combat application tourniquet and hemostatic gauze.
Here’s a fully integrated mobile application that allows agencies to inform and engage with the community—with minimal set-up time and hassle. This app brings together all agency social media tools—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, etc.—plus PublicEngines’ popular services, including CrimeReports mapping, TipSoft anonymous tipping and agency alerts, into a single, seamless service. Now the public can stay up to date on local crime information and conveniently communicate unsafe conditions and tips back to LE officials.
Designed for officers looking for a functional, yet professional uniform look, this series has three parts: the External Vest Carrier, the Suspension System (VSS1) and the Undervest Shirt (UV1). The VSS1 redistributes the strain on hips and lower back from a heavy duty belt and also anchors the vest carrier in place. We noticed that the quick-release clips attach on pre-existing keepers so that duty belt modification isn’t needed.
The visible portions of the UV1 shirt match the professional look of the external vest carrier, while the hidden sections feature lightweight fabric that’s moisture wicking and antimicrobial. The UV1 is available in dark navy or spruce green and long or short sleeves for both men and women.
If you’re looking for a LPR system that offers law enforcement a more covert way to utilize the technology, here’s a good option. The product combines Elsag’s Mobile Plate Hunter-900 (MPH-900) digital cameras concealed within Whelen Engineering’s heavy-duty, low-profile Freedom Series LED Light Bar to protect the cameras from harsh weather. The MPH-900 reads 1,800 license plates per minute (day or night) and compares them to hot lists on your in-car computer. If a suspect vehicle is identified you’re alerted immediately. It also captures criminal intelligence data, including date and time stamps, GPS coordinates, and photos of the license plate and vehicle. With Elsag’s new back-office operations center, EOC 4, this data can be uploaded, archived and analyzed from a fleet of MPH-900 units, as well as a network of fixed LPR cameras. The software program manages data security, access and distribution of hot lists and databases to all LPR units. Authorized users can remote access the data via a website. The LPR Light Bars are available in 50- and 55-inch lengths and with any LED color combination.
Vigilant Solutions’ mobile LPR and facial recognition systems
The CarDetector Mobile Companion is an LPR system for mobile devices (Android and iPhone compatible), which we thought would be especially beneficial for officers on foot patrol. You can capture license plates using your mobile device’s camera and compare them against hot lists. The data management software allows you to save previous searches, receive hit notifications, search prior vehicle sightings and locations, and share all this data with other LE agencies.
The new FaceSearch software is an easy-to-use facial recognition system for smart phones. You can either snap a headshot of a suspect using your smart phone’s camera or import images from social media platforms, text messages or other sources, then match them against a national database and local hotlists to identify suspects. The best part: FaceSearch only requires a web browser and a compatible smart phone. Vigilant Solutions secures and hosts the data so your agency doesn’t have to invest and maintain server hardware. We snapped a couple photos of one the Vigilant Solutions’ employees and, using the software, we were able to quickly match the photo from a previous save in the database. (Don’t worry, no hot-list alerts came up!) (Pictured: CarDetector Mobile Companion)
Tired of dash cameras getting in the way of your line of sight? The Zero Sightline Camera is smaller than the average smart phone and fits nicely behind a rearview mirror. But don’t let the size fool you—this camera offers high-definition video with a wide viewing angle. We watched recoded video footage and saw that even in difficult lighting situations (such as nighttime) or high-contrast scenes (in a parking garage during the day), the video exposure was clear. And with the new backend software—Evidence Library—for the in-car video system, you’ll be able to trim video length without destroying original files, manage case files, import old videos, and author and burn court-ready DVDs.