Each year's version of the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference seems to have if not a theme, then a primary concern that seems to be the focus of most attendees.
For example, it's not hard to imagine that the big issue of the day back in 1893 when IACP held its first conference in Chicago was what to do with them new-fangled automobiles. A more sobering example is the 2001 and 2002 IACPs, which were less about conventional policing and more about anti-terrorism and response to terrorist incidents.
At this year's IACP held last month in Los Angeles, terrorism took a backseat to money concerns. Almost every chief at the show was looking for ways to stretch budgets without compromising public or officer safety and maintaining officer morale and pride.
The state of American policing in 2004 is, in a word, beleaguered. Most agencies don't have enough money for training, equipment, or even a full complement of officers. Perhaps that's why so many of the most innovative products at this year's IACP show were intended to help chiefs maximize their resources, enhance officer safety, improve officer well-being and morale, and multiply the capabilities of their departments.
Pump Patrol Rifle
Remington has introduced a patrol rifle for agencies that want a rifle that operates as easily as a traditional pump-action shotgun. The new Remington 7615P is available in .233 and .308 calibers, weighs only 7 pounds, and features Wilson Combat ghost ring sights. The .223 model has a magazine capacity of 10 rounds, and the .308 model can hold four rounds.
Agencies looking for a four-seat patrol helicopter may want to take a look at the new R44 Raven II from Robinson Helicopter. The Raven II is the first fuel-injected model in the R44 line. Its standard power plant is a fuel-injected, angle-valve, tuned-induction IO-540 Lycoming engine. Payload with standard fuel is 810 pounds. Maximum operating altitude is 14,000 feet.
Springing into Action
Arizona-based VizCon used IACP to show off its new line of compacting traffic cones. The company's Spring Cone system is designed for public safety agencies that have concerns about how to store or transport standard traffic cones. Spring Cones are, as the name implies, spring-loaded traffic cones. Constructed of a bright orange, lightweight mesh fabric, they can be deployed in seconds, are resistant to damage by impact with vehicles, and can be fitted with Reflexite reflective collars. The Spring Cones are half the weight and one-third the size of standard highway cones.
Safe Lites has developed a way to eliminate some of the hazard faced by officers responding to vehicular accidents, investigating crashes, or performing traffic control duties. The company's new BeaconWear safety apparel includes ANSI standard high-visibility yellow and orange vests that have been augmented with strips of electro-luminescent material that the company calls Glowskin. The Glowskin is powered by a lightweight, rechargeable battery. Safe Lites says its BeaconWear makes officers visible at more than 500 feet and has been tested in fog, rain, and snow.
Urban Survival Suit
Uniform and outerwear maker Fechheimer chose IACP to show its new Urban Defender Battle Dress Uniform. The BDU is constructed of a rip/stop blend of poly/cotton. It has a five-button front with concealed buttons, military-style partially bellowed pockets, double fabric elbow reinforcement, a cell phone pocket, and nylon drawstring leg ties. The Urban Defender is available in dark navy and black.
One of the most exciting product previews at this year's IACP show was DaimlerChrysler's exhibit of the Dodge Magnum police vehicle. Available in the 2006 model year, the law enforcement version of the Magnum station wagon has a standard 3.5-liter V6 that aspirates 250 horsepower at 6,400 rpm. Agencies that want more power can opt for a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that generates 340 horsepower at 5,000 rpm.
Dummy on Duty
Perhaps the most unusual and innovative idea at this year's IACP was the Speed Awareness Mannequin (Officer Sam) from Innovative Safety Solutions (ISS). Officer Sam is a life-like poseable mannequin torso that comes with a mock handheld radar system. He can be set up in any model of patrol car and when fitted with a uniform and sunglasses, he looks real enough to fool drivers. Scottsdale, Ariz., has used Officer SAM to dramatically improve traffic compliance in school zones and other critical areas.
Personal Flotation Armor
One of the biggest problems faced by officers who work around bodies of water is how to survive if they end up in the water in full gear, including body armor. U.S. Armor believes it may have the answer. Invented by noted personal flotation device designer Dr. Bill Courtney, U.S. Armor's Tactical Marine Series of ballistic protection includes an adaptable PFD system that can be inflated with an oxygen tank or by mouth. The system is even capable of righting an unconscious wearer in the water.
Harley-Davidson has expanded its Peace Officer line of special edition motorcycles. The bikes are available in one of two special blue color schemes and feature a Peace Officer insignia designed by Willy G. Davidson. New models for 2005 include the Fat Boy and the Heritage Softail Classic. They join a line that includes the Ultra Classic Electra Glide, the Electra Glide Classic, and the Road King.
Ford showed its new fire suppression system for the 2005 Crown Vic Police Interceptor. The computer- controlled system is designed to unleash a torrent of fire suppressant material seconds after a high-energy rear impact. At IACP, Ford showed video of the system at work and provided attendees with a look at the inner workings of the mechanical aspects of the device. Briefly, it consists of two stainless-steel containers that hold the suppressant, a gas pressurization mechanism, nozzles pointed at the ground and up into the body of the car, a rear crash sensor, and redundant wiring to ensure that the system survives a crash. In addition to the automatic deployment, officers can trigger the system using a manual activation switch on the roof of the front seat. The switch is protected by a plastic cover that's designed to prevent accidental activation. Like airbags, the fire suppressant system cannot be recharged; it must be replaced following deployment.
Head-to-Toe Tac Clothes
Dramatically expanding its product line, 5.11 Tactical now offers a variety of law enforcement apparel, from undergarments to boots and everything in between. 5.11's new boots feature the company's Shock Mitigation System, designed to deliver speed, stability, and comfort in a lightweight boot. Waterproof and breathable, the 5.11 HRT boot features Kevlar side panels for stability and support and is available in black or desert sand. ATAC, 5.11's all-terrain, all-condition boot, is made of polishable black leather and comes in an eight-inch side-zip model and a five-inch low boot. The eight-inch model features a hidden side pocket and a curved YKK zipper so they can be easily taken on and off. The company also now makes a line of undercover apparel, including jackets that conceal zip-off cargo pockets and Velcro accessory pouches for weapons and gear, as well as breakaway ties. Shirts in three fits comprise 5.11's Undergear line, available in black, tan, OD green, and black. A variety of jackets, rain pants, reflective vests, and black nylon bags are also new to the company's lineup.
The Interactive Training and Evaluation Classroom (iTEC) from Advanced Interactive Systems brings interactive training to the classroom with software that allows anyone to convert a simple PowerPoint or video presentation into an interactive lesson. A presenter can track and record participants' responses to true/false, multiple choice, or numeric questions in real time during a training session. Hundreds of participants can interact with the system at once by responding to questions via keypads.
Dressing for Disaster
The new Tychem CPF3 HD Garment from DuPont Personal Protection has been tested against 110 chemicals and prevents contamination by chemical warfare agents and toxic industrial chemicals. This new suit is made to better accommodate respirators and is easier to get into and out of. Integrated gloves save time and eliminate the need for tape to close the vulnerable gap between glove and suit. The pre-attached gloves provide protection against chemical agents while delivering a high level of tactility and dexterity. A law enforcement-specific model in a dark gray color will be available in the first quarter of 2005.
Based on FATS' Bluetooth technology, the Bluefire product line from FATS lets officers conduct interactive use-of-force training with a wireless firearm simulator, allowing realistic freedom of movement not possible with tethered systems. Bluefire uses real firearms converted into training weapons so they feel and work just like the real McCoys. Other realistic features of this technology include required magazine reloading and a refillable nitrogen cartridge that provides recoil. The various FATS virtual training scenarios available for these weapons provide accurate, real-time diagnostics, including point-of-aim, weapon status, trigger pressure, and cant. The Bluefire Glock 17 weapon simulator is now available. FATS is currently developing Bluefire simulators for the M16, M4, Beretta M9, SigP226, and Walter P99QA.
Next-Gen Patrol Bike
New to the law enforcement market, Honda showcased its ST1300P motorcycle for police at IACP. It's being used now in pilot programs at select law enforcement agencies and will be available nationwide in early 2005. Among the motorcycle's features are a new special patrol speedometer graduated in 2-mph increments above 10 mph and a motor-driven adjustable windscreen that offers customizable wind protection and comfort. Various specialized brackets for lights, sirens, electronic equipment, and additional brackets on the engine guards allow room for equipment and accessories.
Interactive Training Multitasker
Designed as an all-encompassing training system, MILO, from IES, is a small, portable computer that law enforcement can use to create interactive training on the range, in the classroom, or in any filmed scenario. Plug-in options customize the system to meet each agency's needs, with the ability to conduct teaching programs as well as traditional test-only programs. MILO's course designer software allows agencies to create interactive courses that can be used for presentations, classroom training and testing, firearms training, and use-of-force training. An agency can also record its own training demonsration videos and add its own test questions throughout to present in training sessions to officers.
Versatile Road Radar
Available in a stationary or moving directional radar model, the Stalker II from Applied Concepts improves upon the company's popular Stalker model with more versatility. Like its predecessor, Stalker II uses direction-sensing technology that detects whether a vehicle is moving toward or away from the radar. Now, this technology is available in a handheld radar gun. Stalker II can also automatically distinguish between faster or slower same-lane targets in moving mode without a slower key and can simultaneously track targets closing and going away. In addition to these features, a full-function remote control provides direct access to operator settings and a quick lock-and-release detachable handle system allows the operator to swap battery handles in seconds. An optional motorcycle kit is also available.
Tactical Underwear for Women
Under Armour's women's tactical gear was designed specifically for women. The new line includes T-shirts, compression shorts, leggings, and even a sports bra. Garments include coldgear for cold weather, heatgear for hot weather, and loosegear for loose-fitting comfort. All products are made of combinations of Nylour, Polyarmour, and Elastane to provide moisture wicking, temperature regulation, and flexibility for overall comfort. Seams are sewn and strategically placed for minimal friction. The entire line is available in black, olive, and army brown.
Beretta took the wraps off a new duty pistol at IACP. The new PX4 Storm is a modular handgun with adjustable backstraps. Available in 9mm and .40 S&W, the PX4 Storm's trigger mechanism can be set to single action/double action or double-action only with a variety of manual safety and de-cocker options. The 7.6-inch semi-auto weighs about 28 ounces empty.