Police test the latest gadgets at IACP 2013 in Philly
From police-cruiser simulators to firearm accessories to communication services, this year's expo has something for everyone
By Stephanie Farr
Philadelphia Daily News
PHILADELPHIA — Sgt. Daniel Moore, of Australia's New South Wales Police Force, didn't expect he'd get to fulfill a lifelong fantasy when he came to Philadelphia for this week's International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
But there he was yesterday, in a suit and tie at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, waiting in the longest line at IACP's expo hall.
"It's always been a dream of mine to shoot a Taser at an alien," Moore said.
And so, he did.
Taser's Alien Crash Site is one of more than 750 exhibits at IACP's expo hall, where vendors of police equipment and services are showing off the state of the art in high-tech crime-fighting gadgetry through tomorrow. Taser's Alien Crash Site was designed to let users test two of the company's products: the AXON Flex on-officer camera and its newest stun gun, the X2.
The camera mounted on a pair of glasses was given to those men in blue who wanted to become Men in Black for a day. Once inside the "crash site," the camera recorded every move as a man in an alien suit jumped out from behind his spaceship and was fired at by officers armed with Tasers.
Moore's Australian colleague, Senior Sgt. Stuart McDiarmid — who claimed he only went through the crash-site experience to get the stuffed alien toy for his kid at the end — said what impressed him most at the expo was Intrado's sleek, two-story mobile command center on a big rig known as THOR Shield.
Intrado provides support services in the 9-1-1/emergency-services industry. During Hurricane Katrina, when Intrado staffers were stationed on the second floor of a Hyatt hotel, they thought there had to be a better way, said senior technical project manager Daryl Hartner.
So Intrado developed THOR (Tactical Homeland Operational Response), a vehicle that the company rents but does not sell. Inside THOR are 17 workstations and a second-floor conference room that seats eight.
The unit was most recently used for unified command in Washington, D.C., during the 50th anniversary of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington, but it's also designed for when disasters might wipe out a city's entire network.
"If you've lost a communications center, we can start from the ashes and begin the rebuilding process," Hartner said.
The expo hall was filled with plenty of the usual suspects in policing, like Colt, Glock and Harley-Davidson, and a few unexpected ones as well, such as the Motion Picture Association of America and the Brief Relief personal-lavatory systems.
The MPAA representative said the association was there to highlight copyright laws and bootlegs, while the representative from Brief Relief said his product — a pop-up port-a-potty tent — is perfect for those long nights at stakeouts or on an accident scene.
Matt Henry, of the British company Cerberus Black Ltd., held across his chest a large yellow-and-black device called the A-WASP that looked like one of Marvin the Martian's guns.
The A-WASP (Acoustic Warning Signal Projector) is a device that emits a "highly directional" and "very intense" beam of sound to a target as far out as 400 feet, Henry said. The device, which is not yet on the market, is intended for crowd control and conflict management.
Henry, who would not demonstrate the A-WASP inside the convention center, said it "sounds like the worst siren you've ever heard."
"It gives you an impression it's inside your head," he said.
Although he wouldn't say how many decibels it could reach, Henry said British police have determined that safe exposure time for the A-WASP is 115 decibels over a period of a minute.
Over at Simulation Technology's booth, Farmington, N.H., Police Chief Kevin J. Willey urged his wife, Lesia, to test out a police-cruiser simulator that had five screens, a 220-degree view and pitch-and-roll motion on the cab.
"I want to put my wife behind the wheel to prove it's not as easy at it looks," Willey said. "You can train for a lot of things, but you can't train to be in pursuit."
While many people were trying out the latest in policing equipment, Lanre Bankole, of the Ogun State Police in Nigeria, was checking out the oldest. He said if he could recommend one purchase for his department back home, it would be body armor.
"One of the biggest obstacles we face is armed banditry," he said.
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