Large trade shows can be overwhelming for everyone involved. They are a blur of seminars, awards banquets, industry schmooze sessions, and aisle after aisle of exhibits and demonstrations. Such was the case with October's International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) show in Minneapolis.
Here's our editors' choices for some of the most intriguing new or newly discovered products at the IACP show.
Perhaps the flashiest piece of critical incident gear at the show was the new First Responder mobile communications system from Raytheon. The First Responder was developed to meet the needs of police and fire departments at major incidents, including terrorist attacks. Using software and numerous pieces of radio and satellite hardware, the First Responder can receive and transmit across numerous bands of communications-satellite, radio, cell phone, and wireless- ensuring that commanders in the field are never out of touch with headquarters, officers on the scene, fire and rescue personnel, or even the news media. The First Responder can be installed in the agency's existing vehicles or bought in a turnkey system that includes the vehicle.
Hit the Showers
On an equally grand scale, Kohler showed off its new mobile decontamination system for WMD and HazMat incidents. Mobile Decon was designed with the cooperation of the U.S. Army's Biological Task Force and offers a six-step showering and cleansing process in the privacy of an enclosed trailer.
Is it Anthrax?
The toughest job facing WMD units is not decontamination after a WMD event; it's recognizing that one is taking place before mass casualties are evident. GenPrime has a new tool, Prime Alert, that can help first responders determine if a mysterious powder is bath talc or bacterial spores. The test kit fits in a portable hard case, and is easy to administer.
Cop in a Box
Much of the tactical equipment that's rolled out at police trade shows is so exotic and expensive that it's well beyond the reach of small agencies. This is especially true of mobile armored equipment. For those agencies who can't afford an armored vehicle but need a mobile armored tool, Goshen, Ind.-based Supreme Corp. may have a solution. Supreme's Mobile Armored Device (MAD) is essentially an armored box on wheels. Constructed of aluminum and Kevlar for Level 3 ballistic resistance, MAD is a foot-driven tactical vehicle that is small enough to fit in a standard elevator. It accommodates two officers and features numerous gun ports for counter fire.
Testing for the presence of explosives is quick and easy with Mistral Security's Expray. The Expray field test kit is an aerosol system that can be used to detect TNT, TNB, Semtex H, RDX, C4, and improvised nitrate explosives such as fertilizer bombs. Mistral also makes a test kit of sprays for detecting cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, and heroin.
Comfort and Joy
DuPont made an announcement at IACP that it has made a breakthrough in Kevlar technology that will produce lighter, more flexible body armor with the same ballistic capabilities of current models. Kevlar Comfort XLT is reportedly 20 percent lighter than current Kevlar formulations. The new lighter weight Kevlar is expected to reach the market in 2003 when DuPont licenses the technology to the makers of ballistic vests.
Although there were several new guns on the IACP floor and a lucky few attendees even saw glimpses of models that were still under wraps, one of the most popular new weapons was the FNP 9 pistol from FNH USA. The polymer-framed FNP 9 is the first handgun to be released under the FNH USA banner and features an ambidextrous manual decocking lever, reversible magazine catch, hammer-fired double- and single-action mechanism, and a firing pin safety. Chambered in 9mm and .40 S&W (available next year), the FNP 9 weighs just 25 ounces and has a four-inch barrel.
Sensors and Software's Noggin looks a lot like the business end of a lawn mower, but it doesn't cut the grass. It cuts much deeper. Noggin is a ground penetrating radar system that your agency can use to locate buried evidence, including bodies in shallow graves.
Forensic investigators at IACP should have taken note of Scalar Law Enforcement's ProScope. Both a 200X microscope and a digital camera, the ProScope connects to a Windows or Macintosh computer via a USB cable to capture magnified images of evidence in real time. The images can be recorded as stills, video, or time-lapse, and they can be e-mailed. Using a C-mount adapter, the ProScope attaches to analog cameras, microscopes, and telescopes.
I See You
In terms of officer safety, Cisco Systems launched one of the most innovative tools at the show. Cisco's new Mobile Access Router offers uninterrupted and secure wireless connectivity so that officers in the field can receive mission critical information on their way to a call. For example, video of a crime scene can be relayed by first responders to officers en route so that they know what to expect when they arrive. The technology is currently being tested by the Seal Beach (Calif.) Police Department.
Tritech rolled out its Voyager Mobile system earlier in the summer, but IACP offered many officers a first look at the new solution. Voyager Mobile operates on most commercial data networks and links computer-aided dipatch systems to in-vehicle computers. The program combines mapping, status messaging, and forms. It also allows messaging between units, dispatch, and officers outside of their cars who carry PDAs.[PAGEBREAK]
Be on the Lookout
Also in the software sector, Aether Systems demonstrated an impressive new upgrade of PacketCluster Patrol that integrates with Aether's PocketBlue. The new PacketCluster Patrol 4.4 features a dual-pane query response window for more efficient access and review of data from NCIC, NLETS, and DMV. In addition, PacketCluster Patrol now supports 3G networks for high-speed access to images and video.
Blue Light Special
With all its flashing LED lightbars, Federal Signal had one of the most visible booths on the show floor. And the company had a reason to be so flashy, as it was promoting the roll out of two major new products, SignalNet and Cuda Spectre. SignalNet is a series of control boxes and software that allows an officer to control all of the warning systems on his or her patrol car via a touchscreen interface on a laptop computer. In addition, SignalNet monitors the vehicle's battery voltage and has a dual mode multivoltage load manager that allows different shedding voltages for each individual light or siren. The new Cuda Spectre LED lightbar can be integrated into SignalNet or it can be used as a standalone lightbar. Features include long-life (100,000 hours) and a clear bar that keeps your car from being spotted at a distance.
Really Fast Boat
Agencies with a need for waterborne capabilities may want to take a look at Sonic Jet's PRJ 1500 Patrol Rescue Jet. And a lot of curious officers did just that at IACP. The PRJ 1500 jet boat features a very shallow draft with no prop to foul, and it can hit speeds of up to 55 mph. It carries up to four officers and their gear.
Fechheimer introduced the latest product in its Flying Cross line of police apparel. The new Flying Cross 70/28/2 polyester, rayon, Lycra trousers are machine washable, wrinkle free, stain resistant, and colorfast. They feature 2-zone stretch waistbands, permanent creases, French flys, and brass zippers. Available in LAPD Navy blue, silver tan, heather gray, brown, and black, the trousers come in four-pocket and six-pocket designs.
Police apparel continues to move toward a layered multipurpose approach and a good example of this is Elbeco's new Summit reversible fleece jacket. The waterproof jacket is constructed of Thinsulate insulation and comes in navy, brown, flourescent yellow, and black. It's warm, comfortable, and features a Hiptex membrane that repels water but breathes.
For really cold climates, Armor Safety Products has introduced the Thermal Air, a mask or hood that captures the heat and moisture of the wearer's exhaled breath and uses it to warm and humidify the wearer's inhaled breath. The result is not only a warmer face, but warmer hands, feet, and overall body core temperature, as the Thermal Air prevents the loss of body heat through breathing. Thermal Air is available in hoods and masks, and there's even a Nomex fire-retardant model.
Kustom Signals released its Directional Golden Eagle (DGE) radar with digital signal processing at IACP. The newest member of Kustom's Eagle Series, the DGE features an innovative antenna design that provides the operator with longer operating range, faster target acquisition, and more precise target identification than the other Eagle Series radar models. DGE's directional capabilities eliminate moving/same direction discrimination problems. Standard features include stopwatch and fastest vehicle modes, a choice of four different user-selectable types of output to video systems, and English and metric selections for miles or kilometers.
Light and Tough
Panasonic's newest Toughbook, the CF-R1, was one of the hits of the show. Attendees were impressed with this extremely lightweight (2.2 pounds) sub-notebook. The CF-R1 offers a small footprint that's ideal for increasingly cramped police cars and, while it is not as rugged as Panasonic's full-size notebooks, the diminutive CF-R1 is semi-ruggedized and can take some punishment. Inside, the CF-R1 features an Intel 800MHz SpeedStep Mobile Pentium processor, a 20-gigabyte shock-mounted hard drive, and up to 256 megabytes of RAM.
One of the absolute neatest things on the floor of the IACP show was QuikClot. Put simply, QuickClot is an inert and sterile mineral product that can be used to stop massive bleeding from severe trauma and save lives. Produced by Z-Medica of Newington, Conn., and developed with the cooperation of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps, QuickClot is FDA approved and it has been issued to troops serving in Afghanistan. The product is poured into open wounds, then it soaks up the fluids, and speeds clotting. Because QuickClot is chemically inert and sterile, it poses no hazards to the patient or attending medical personnel, and it doesn't hinder further emergency treatment.
The Folding Ladder
Hands down the coolest new police equipment at IACP was the QuikStep ladder from Armor Safety Products. The QuikStep takes the concept of "folding ladder" to a new level. A 14-foot long QuickStep with 12-inch (18-inch assault widths are available) rungs folds to an amazingly compact 15x3.25x168 inches. The QuikStep folds into place almost as rapidly as any fixed ladder and it can be pulled down and put away in seconds. Available in 6-, 8-, 10-, 12-, and 14-foot lengths, the QuikStep is a real space saver for officers who wonder how they're going to cram all of their equipment into their vehicles.
Shock to the System
Medtronic's new LifePak CR Plus is a really well designed AED that's lightweight, compact, and easy to use. Developed for minimally trained first responders, the CR Plus requires just three steps to deliver potentially life-saving shocks to victims of cardiac arrest. The system automatically adjusts the energy output to match the victim's needs, and it automatically supplies additional shocks as needed. Lifepak CR Plus requires very little maintenance, just recharging after 20 to 30 full energy shocks.