Does the helmet you wear for crowd control protect against fire, acid, and stabbings? Now you can own one that will. With the help of Randy Northrup, German manufacturer Schuberth is bringing its P100F Law Enforcement Crowd Control Helmet to the States.
Northrup, the general manager of Schuberth North America, has a 20-year background in helmets for motorcycle riders and racecar drivers, so he's very familiar with head protection in the United States. But when he visited Schuberth's manufacturing facility in Germany he was blown away by the company's innovation in engineering and design.
"Schuberth's riot control helmet will take a Molotov cocktail on the head and self-extinguish. It's completely fireproof and it's acid proof. It's got a Kevlar neck protection on the back so nobody can reach around and stab you in the neck," says Northrup. "All these improvements are beyond what our NIJ standard even asks for."
While the NIJ standards for helmets haven't been updated in years, Schuberth updates its helmets whenever it's recognized that an improvement could be made, and police officers who wear them benefit, says Northrup.
United Nations troops wear them throughout the world. European law enforcement agencies purchase Schuberth helmets, but they can't always afford these higher priced products for all of their officers. Because of this, much of Schuberth's business comes from selling to individuals. "Those officers who are on the front lines purchase Schuberth helmets on their own because they know they're better," Northrup says.
American law enforcement agencies are pinching pennies these days, too, and Northrup worries some officers are putting themselves at risk wearing helmets bought from military surplus. "From a face protection standpoint, and in shock absorption, this is a much better helmet," says Northrup. "If you're taking a club to the head, military helmets aren't made for absorbing impact at that level."
In Schuberth's P100F helmet, a special EPS (expanded polystyrene) liner provides shock absorption. Not only is the liner fire retardant, it can also be removed for washing or even replaced, which extends the life of the helmet. For face protection, the helmet has a 6mm polycarbonate NIJ Level I ballistic visor, which can be upgraded to Level II. The helmet itself also provides ballistic protection against small caliber rounds. Another unusual protective feature found on the P100F is a penetration-resistant neck protector insert made of four layers of nylon with a Kevlar covering.
Northrup and his staff recently met with members of a traffic officers association who were impressed by the P100F's features. "This is way better than what we've ever seen," they told him. "It's a little weird when people say that," muses Northrup.
He wants to spread the word about the safety benefits of Schuberth helmets to law enforcement agencies and individual officers. He also hopes the company's P100F will become a common sight on American police officers working crowd enforcement for riots and other incidents.
"The Schuberth line is a serious protective device," says Northrup. "If you're directing traffic in the back, that's one thing, but if you're on the front lines, you probably want to wear a Schuberth."