As you walk around a big industry show, there are certain things that people ask you. Popular topics of discussion include such oldies but goodies as: What do you think of the show? How's the traffic in your booth?
And my favorite, What's new and cool on the floor?
That last one is a tough question, but it's also the mission statement for a journalist assigned to cover a trade show, find the new and the cool, and tell the audience about it. The only problem is that working a big trade show, say the recent International Association of Chiefs of Police show held at the end of October in Philadelphia, is overwhelming.
A show like IACP often involves about a thousand or more exhibitors, hawking a wide variety of products and services. And after walking around talking to them, all the information starts to run together. Consequently, when somebody asks you what's cool at the show, your brain searches for some response, but it can't really think of anything.
Truthfully, standing on the show floor with arms full of promotional literature is not the best place to come up with an overview of what you are seeing. Perspective comes later when you sit down with all that literature at your desk and try to come to some conclusion about what you saw a week ago.
That's exactly what this article is about. Two weeks after IACP, I'm going through the box of literature and all the notes taken by myself and associate editor Melanie Hamilton at IACP and trying to gain perspective on the show. And I've come to this conclusion, there was no one major theme to the show. It was a very eclectic show, and there wasn't one blockbuster announcement or product release; there were many significant ones.
Here's our look at the coolest new products shown or introduced at the 110th IACP show.
As always, simulators were a big attraction at IACP, with cops lining up to take their turn working the scenarios. This year one of the most popular scenarios was the less-lethal modeling now available for the AIS/PRISim system. The simulator now offers scenarios that involve the use of Tasers, PepperBall guns, OC spray, and flashlights. The sim's software plays a reaction that equals the level of force used by the officer. For example, if an officer Tasers a subject, he falls to the ground subdued but unharmed. However, if in the same scenario the officer pulls a sidearm and shoots the subject, the results are much more catastrophic. In addition, the training director can minimize the effect of a less-lethal weapon, have the subject continue the attack, and force the student to deploy another weapon.
Two of the most interesting announcements at IACP came from 5.11 Tactical. The company, which was once part of Royal Robbins, has broken away to concentrate solely on law enforcement clothing and gear. Accordingly, 5.11 Tactical has launched a new line of Class A and Class B uniform shirts and pants. The pants are 65 percent polyester and 35 percent rayon, and both the Class A and Class B (with cargo pockets) versions are built to be tough and comfortable with diamond-gusseted crotches. Made of 64 percent polyester, 34 percent rayon, and 2 percent Lycra, the shirts feature hidden document pockets, and are available in long- and short-sleeved versions.
Streamlight showed a new flashlight that combines the best features of LED and incandescent lights. The Streamlight SL-20XP/LED and 3C-XP/LED flashlights are full-size, polymer construction, rechargeable police flashlights that combine the brightness and energy savings of LEDs with the penetration of an incandescent bulb. Officers can run both at once, or switch the light between LED mode and incandescent mode as needed. This feature makes the XP/LED flashlights actually two lights in one. When the incandescent bulb dims due to low battery strength, an officer can use his or her XP/LED flashlight in LED mode for another hour before recharging.
In the Crosshairs
Leupold announced that as of Jan. 1 all of the scopes in its tactical optics line, including its spotting scopes, are being upgraded to Mark 4 quality. Mark 4 is the company's designation for its highest level of optical precision and product features. Leupold also showed a new line of mid-range tactical scopes for law enforcement and military applications. The compact mid-range tactical (MR/T) scopes come in a variety of models, some with illuminated reticles, and are designed to be used with AR15-type rifles.
Motorola has joined the ranks of vendors of ruggedized Intel Centrino laptop computers with the release of the Motorola ML 850, an upgrade of the company's ML 840. Centrino technology gives the ML 850 built-in wireless modem capabilities, and it's no slouch as a standalone computing system. Ruggedized to MIL-STD-810F, the ML 850 is powered by a 1.1GHz Centrino, boasts 256MB of RAM and 64MB of video RAM, and comes standard with a 40GB hard drive.
Software on Patrol
Aether has upgraded its industry leading PacketCluster Patrol software. PacketCluster Patrol 4.5 includes a lot of little improvements requested by users, including a dual-pane query response window to aid review of NCIC, NLETS, and DMV data, support for 3G networks, and system administrator controlled toolbar access to intranet and Internet information. The PacketCluster Patrol 4.5 software is fully compatible with Aether's PacketWriter for field reporting and Aether's PocketBlue handheld computer solution.
One of the most interesting SWAT tools to debut at IACP was a ballistic shield that looks for all the world like a prop from the campy 1960's "Batman" TV show. The Baker Batshield is a bat-shaped piece of NIJ Level IIIA ballistic armor that can be tethered to a tactical officer, allowing him or her as much protection as a conventional ballistic shield and two free hands to aim and fire weapons. When not in use the Batshield can be slung over the operator's shoulder for easy transport. Created by retired tactical officer Al Baker, the Baker Batshield weighs approximately half as much as conventional SWAT bunker shields.
Thermal imaging systems are becoming more and more common in the equipment rooms of law enforcement agencies. But not every agency can afford this high-tech surveillance gear, and there are situations where even cops working for well-heeled agencies may need thermal imaging but find the equipment too bulky to carry into the field. Raytheon showed a new tool at IACP that may go a long way toward solving both problems. The Raytheon X100xp is a portable infrared camera that's about the size of a small set of binoculars and sells for thousands of dollars less than Raytheon's larger, more powerful infrared systems. Designed for tactical operations and serving with the U.S. military in Iraq, the X100xp weighs only 13 ounces, operates on AA batteries, and has an effective range of 1,000 feet.
If you're a bad guy and the cops hit you with a less-lethal 12-gauge round, you're having a bad day. But if you get hit with PepperBall's new ImpactPlus less-lethal 12-gauge round, then you're having a really bad day. ImpactPlus is a frangible 12-gauge round that releases PAVA (capsaicin II) pepper irritant on impact. The rounds fire from standard Remington 870 shotguns, and strike the target with 14 to 21 foot-pounds of kinetic force. Inert training rounds are also available.
Post-9/11 and even before one of the greatest concerns in U.S. public safety was the fear of bad guys getting badges and uniforms and posing as cops. In an effort to provide law enforcement officers with more secure badges, Collinson Enterprises has developed Safeshield, a holographic technique that imprints photos or other secure information on the face of the company's custom-designed badges. Collinson says the holographic badges cannot be counterfeited and any attempt to tamper with the image destroys it, rendering the badge useless.[PAGEBREAK]
DuPont announced the development of a new Kevlar that is at least 25 percent lighter than any other all-aramid ballistic fabric. Kevlar Comfort XLT is currently being incorporated into soft body armor manufactured by Armor Holdings (Safariland and American Body Armor) and Pacific Safety Products.
Night Vision Camera
ITT Industries has added a CCD camera to its law enforcement and military line of night vision devices. The ISG-780/1180 is a Gen 3 intensified CCD camera with auto-gating. Features include five modes of gate control: synchronous gating, asynchronous gating, automatic gating, triggered gating, and direct gating; bonded CCD/intensifier design; "C" mount lens interface; and on-camera gate and gain controls. In addition, the camera can be operated by remote control.
Steel Toe Boots
Bates Uniform Footwear showed a new line of steel-toed boots for cops. The Bates Enforcer series comes in Steel Toe and Steel Toe-Waterproof models. Both offer full-grain leather and ballistic nylon construction; breathable mesh linings with either Thinsulate insulation or DuPont Hytrel waterproof membrane; ANSI standard steel toes; and oil- and slip-resistant rubber outsoles. Enforcer boots are available in 8-inch side-zip, 6-inch side-zip, and in 8-inch standard styles.
Plastic Framed Armor
Researchers at Protech have discovered a unique way to make ballistic material more effective. They're framing it with plastic stripping that prevents the material from twisting when hit with bullets. The benefit of this technology is that it distributes the impact energy of the bullet more evenly across the ballistic fiber, lessening the blunt trauma to the wearer and reducing the amount of ballistic material needed to do the job. Using this technology, Protech has created the Exo, an NIJ Level IIIA vest that's more than 50 percent lighter and 40 percent thinner than comparable vests packed with traditional aramid fibers. At its IACP booth, Protech (Armor Holdings) showed a video of an Exo vest being struck by a 240-grain .44 Magnum round. The material not only stopped the bullet, it twisted much less on impact, and ejected the round once its energy was spent.
Time was that evidence storage required nothing more than a secure room and some cardboard boxes and some weapons lockers. Not anymore. Today, police agencies need to store hazardous chemicals from drug raids, explosives from bomb-making suspects, and possibly even biological or chemical weapons from domestic or foreign terrorist cells. A solution to this problem is now being offered by Safety Storage. The company makes a variety of interior and exterior storage systems that can be used for hazardous materials and even biohazards.
Reliance Armor Systems introduced a new line of stab armor. The Gladiator armor provides spike (NIJ 2) and edged blade (NIJ 2) protection in one custom-fit vest. Other features include pick/knife-resistant panels that are sealed in an antimicrobial/antibacterial pouch, laminated fabric and foam for wearer comfort, precisely engineered stitching for strong, flexible performance, and a Transpor lining for wicking away perspiration.
LEDs have taken the flashlight world by storm and the same is true of the lightbar market. The Galaxy lightbar is the latest LED police system from 911 EP, and it's a powerful and versatile 360-degree LED lighting system. One of the primary selling points of the Galaxy is that it can be customized to suit the needs of any department through 911 EP's Made to Order program. The low-amperage Galaxy lightbars are available in four stock sizes and base modules on the leading and trailing edges can be configured for various LED colors, blanks, and up to 400 watts of takedown lights.
For most traffic radar systems the selling points are the features that allow you to track and ticket speeders. Stalker's new DSR 2X multi-direction sensing radar can do all of that, but it can also save your life. Traffic enforcement officers are often killed or injured because they pull onto the highway after making a stop and misjudge the speed of or don't see the cars and trucks coming up behind them. The DSR 2X's Rear Traffic Alert feature can prevent such tragedies. When a car equipped with the DSR 2X starts to pull into traffic from a standing start, the system will audibly warn the driver if vehicles are approaching too fast. In addition, the DSR 2X offers selective target locking, a detachable display unit, optional VSS operation, four target zones when stationary and two target zones when moving, and a variety of display modes, including stopwatch.
Most mobile data systems for law enforcement require a lot of money up front for server and client software and even for specialized hardware. Not so with Armada's new iLincs software. iLincs, which is an acronym for intelligent, linked, information, networked, collaboration system, is a Web-based subscription service. Agencies can contract with Armada for the service, which is delivered over a secure Website and can be accessed by any laptop or desktop computer with Internet access. iLincs gives users access to local, state, and national databases; allows officers in the field to share missing person reports, intelligence reports, photos, and fingerprints; and enables easy collaboration between officers in multiple agencies.
Gamber Johnson used IACP to show its line of mounting hardware for mobile computers. The line now includes a docking station for the versatile Panasonic Toughbook 18 ruggedized notebook and tablet computer. Designed to the same rugged MIL-STD-810F quality as the Panasonic Toughbook, the docking station can be mounted in the cab or trunk, features brass locating pins for easy computer placement, a built-in key lock for security and quick removal, and internal/protected circuit boards.
Barrett Firearms is known most for its .50 caliber sniper rifles, but at IACP the company showed a smaller caliber long-range rifle solution. The Barrett 6.8mm Remington SPC drop-on receiver converts any M16/M4 rifle into a high-caliber precision rifle. Benefits include greater range and greater stopping power than 5.56mm (.223) or even 7.62mm AK-47 rounds on a weapon that works exactly like an M16/M4.