09/09/2004

Detainees kept in tow with new invention

By Ty McMahan
The Daily Oklahoman

Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Alan Beaty says his invention, the Trooper Trap, will help keep his fellow law enforcement officers safe. His idea, he said, came from his own experience.

In October 2000, Beaty arrested a woman on an outstanding felony warrant, he said. He handcuffed and buckled her into the back seat of his car. While he took inventory of the woman''s vehicle, she slipped off her handcuffs, jumped in the driver''s seat of Beaty''s cruiser and sped away, he said.

A chase ensued, and the woman eventually crashed Beaty''s 3-week-old car, he said.

"I thought, ''There has got to be a better way,''" Beaty said.

Beaty said he may have invented one. His Trooper Trap, he said, is a device that will sound an alarm if a person placed in custody in the back seat unbuckles a seat belt. He said the device should be added to every police car in the country.

"It seems like there is a major escape every day," Beaty said. "If it''s that big of a problem, we need to do something about it."

Beaty, of El Reno, said he is working with companies that customize law enforcement vehicles to offer the Trooper Trap as an option.

Dave Campbell, a salesman for one of the nation''s largest dealers of police vehicles, said he agrees with Beaty that every cruiser should be equipped with the device.

"They probably ought to be on every police car ever built," Campbell said. "I haven''t seen an officer that wouldn''t want it."

When Beaty was ready to produce the Trooper Trap, he said he found Gary Hamner through the Oklahoma Alliance for Manufacturing Excellence. Hamner''s company, Surface Mount Depot, hopes to have a steady production of the device.

The manufacturing, sales management and distribution of the Trooper Trap is performed by Surface Mount Depot in Oklahoma City.

With Trooper Trap, an officer can deal with another subject, inventory or search a vehicle, or perform other duties without physically watching the detainee. If the subject removes a seat belt with Trooper Trap enabled, the unit will alert the officer by sounding an alarm on the patrol unit.

Beaty said the Trooper Trap is being tested in Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma.

"It''s really turned some heads as a solution to a problem," Beaty said.

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