10-43: Be Advised...
with Doug Wyllie, PoliceOne Editor in Chief
A 'magic wand' for officer safety
Using the Metal-TEC 1400 from Torfino Enterprises, officers can trace the outline of concealed weapons and detect objects as small as SIM cards
Earlier this month, we reported on the case of the Oklahoma woman who had hidden a revolver in her vagina and how it served as an important search reminder.
A few days later, I exchanged emails with my friend Jeff Chudwin, a world-class police trainer, educator, and leader. Chudwin, who in July of last year retired as Chief of Police for the Olympia Fields (Ill.) Police Department (our congratulations on a 38-year career, Chief!) also serves as President of the Illinois Tactical Officers Association. Chudwin told me about the Metal-TEC metal detector by Torfino Enterprises, which he had discovered while attending a training seminar.
He told me he returned to his PD and issued orders that all arrestees be ‘wanded’ prior to taking the handcuffs off in the department lockup area. “By use of the detector, we can determine if metal is present, and if so, decide on our course of conduct. At minimum, the handcuffs stay on at that point,” he said.
Silent, Sensitive, and Solid
Manufactured in the United States of America, the Metal-TEC 1400 was designed to be used as an enhancement of the hand during searches, requiring only one hand for operation.
The device has a silent mode, with vibration indicating to the officer that a weapon has been detected, and, powered by a standard nine-volt battery, it lasts for about 2,000 searches (assuming each search is about 45 seconds in duration).
It’s omnidirectional, which lets you pick up objects no matter which direction it happens to be facing in your hand.
In addition, it’s apparently sensitive enough to alert officers to items as small as razor blades, handcuff keys, and even small pieces of metal foil which may contain drugs.
In fact, the Metal-TEC is in widespread use in military theatres of operation such as Afghanistan, where it was adopted in part because it can detect the SIM card for a mobile phone in a pocket.
“You can actually hold it up to your face and pick up the fillings in your teeth — that’s how sensitive it is,” said Nick De Torfino, the company’s Vice President and Chief Technical Officer.
“If someone has a razor blade under their tongue or a cuff key in their mouth looking to break free or hurt someone when they’re not looking, this will find those items.”
According to De Torfino, the Metal-TEC can even discriminate objects based on shape and density. By pointing the end of the Metal-TEC at a concealed object, you can trace the outline around it, allowing you to know if what you’re detecting is a knife, a gun, or some other object.
Further, by moving the wand nearer and farther from the object, you can get an idea of its mass.
Another reason the military likes it, of course, is because the thing is rugged as hell.
“People have driven Bradleys over them and they survive just fine,” De Torfino said. “It’s just built from the ground up to be tough.”
The company offers operator certification courses as well as train-the-trainer certification courses where you can learn all sorts of manipulations and techniques that significantly enhance the usefulness of the device way beyond simple metal detection.
For example, the course includes instruction on how to use the device in contact with pressure points on the body in the same way a baton would function.
“If you just hand somebody a metal detector they’re going to 'wand' somebody quickly and think they’re done,” De Torfino said. “We teach people how to find hypodermic needles, we teach them skills in detecting non-metal objects, how to turn a pocket inside out with the Metal-TEC.”
De Torfino said that you can actually take the probe side — the narrow side— of the device and stick it in a pocket, rotate it one turn, and pull it to turn that pocket inside out.
This lets you get to items concealed in pockets without ever having to put your hand in there, thus avoiding the possibility of being nicked by a concealed needle.
“You can take a Tic-Tac out of a pocket with the Metal-TEC if it’s done correctly,” De Torfino said.
The Cost of Safety
The Metal-TEC adds a level of protection that should, in my personal opinion, be mandatory in every police station and lockup. In fact, I think this thing is a no-brainer for lockup and sally-port safety, and could be a real game-changer for individual patrol officers.
The company is currently offering a special deal in which you can get one device as well as one train-the-trainer certification course for less than $100.
For more details, visit www.torfino.com.
Stay safe out there my friends.