by P1 News Editor Lindsay Gebhart
Watch a video demo of a cell phone gun"Pagers, firearms, ballpoint pens - bizarre weapons are all over," Said Lead Street Survival Seminar Instructor Dave Smith. "That's why we officers to teach watch the suspects' hands. Pay attention to what they have, and the way they use it."
The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NYPD has sent out an alert to its officers about guns that are disguised as cell phones. Full story
Although the existence of cell phone guns is not new, this story underscores the critical nature of staying alert for these types of weapons.
Vigilance and education about unique, difficult to spot weapons is key for officer safety. Smith suggests going to gun fairs when they are in town to check out what is out there. He also recommended that you search the Internet and hit up your street sources so you consistently familiarize yourself with the kinds of weapons that may surface on the street and how they are used.
Smith said the two things to focus on when you approach a suspect are to:
1) make sure suspects their hands out of their pockets and,
2) if they are holding something, have them to put it down. In these situations, Smith suggests "selling" the idea to them rather than going into full commando mode. He suggested using phrases like: Just put the phone down, I want your full attention or Put it down so we can protect you and me and not have any problems or A pen can be used as a weapon, so please put the pen down.
"You can control your own actions," Smith said. "How you observe individuals - if they fail to obey - will determine whether you can do a frisk. Never hesitate to say in a report about a frisk situation that you were afraid. Saying you were afraid validates your search."
Smith said to always remember not to take things at face value. In addition to the item possibly being a weapon it could also be hiding drugs.
Go to the P1 Alert Section for more disguised weapon information