FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!

Security Policy and the Cloud

Ask The Expert

Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Tactical Pants - Galls
A popular choice for public safety professionals, the Galls Tactical Pants are...

Features

21st Century Riot Control Tools

Anarchists and agitators beware: Heat rays and stink bombs are in your future.

November 29, 2010  |  by - Also by this author


Rumors started flying in the Internet blogs a few weeks before last year's G20 economic summit in Pittsburgh. The police had some new toys that would ensure that Pittsburgh did not become another Seattle. Anarchists and agitators cringed as they read about heat rays, sonic disruptors, mass TASERs, malodorants, and other new riot control technologies that would supposedly make their debut during the economic summit.

And maybe that's why somebody spread those rumors, perhaps even somebody in law enforcement.

But once the demonstrators hit the streets and the Black Bloc anarchists donned their bandannas, Pittsburgh Police responded with very conventional tools like "hats and bats," OC, and less-lethal impact rounds. There were no heat rays or other science fiction weapons.

Experts say these weapons are potentially viable as riot control tools, but there are still a wide variety of issues that have to be resolved before they become the bane of the Black Bloc.

Heat Rays

The heat ray has long been a fixture in science fiction. In those stories, it can melt buildings. Currently, the world's first working heat ray is really more of an annoyance than a futuristic weapon of mass destruction.

Developed by Raytheon, the heat ray is officially known as the Active Denial System (ADS). The weapon uses millimeter wave energy to generate a heat beam that causes a burning sensation on the skin of the target without inflicting permanent damage. Once the person targeted steps out of the beam, the pain stops. It's designed to prevent unauthorized personnel from entering sensitive military areas and has been deployed in Afghanistan to mixed results.

The military version of the heat ray is so large that it has to be carried on a HumVee or truck. Law enforcement is looking to field smaller versions with less power and less effective range.

But for a while it's unlikely that law enforcement heat rays will be viable riot control tools. The systems are just too large and the public is just not comfortable with the idea.

The first use of Raytheon's technology by law enforcement will likely be in a corrections environment. In August, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department announced that it was planning to install Raytheon's new Assault Intervention Device in its Pitchess Detention Center. The National Institute of Justice owns the equipment and has put those plans on hold while it studies the capabilities and effects of the device.

LASD's heat ray is much smaller and much less powerful than the military version, but it's still eight feet tall and weighs 600 pounds. It's so large that it has to be mounted on a gimbal system so that an operator can aim it.

Commander Bob Osborne of LASD's Technology Exploration System believes the system may be very effective in preventing or at least limiting some inmate on inmate violence at the notorious Pitchess Center, but he thinks it's not yet ready for street riot control.

"It's just too big and unwieldy," Osborne explains. "But the science may be viable. If there was a device that was much smaller, that was portable, that didn't require as much power, that was solid state, and that could withstand the rigors of being hand carried, then I can imagine that device having riot control applications."

Osborne believes the real delay in fielding such technology won't be in developing the tool but in getting people to accept it. "Public opinion and acceptance tend to lag behind technology for police," he says.

Request more info about this product / service / company


Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine