Street-wise products for the beat

Technology for street patrol: Wireless communication, digital video recording and protection from the elements


     Ion-Mask protection begins after manufacturing. Inside a vacuum chamber, boots are first pretreated with plasma that activates the leather or other fibrous surface. A monomer fluorocarbon repellent is then introduced to the chamber. It bonds to the boot's surface by penetrating each fiber. Finally, a polymer one thousand times thinner than a human hair is applied to finish and enhances the water-repellent bond.

     Of particular interest is the Magnum Elite Force 8.0 WPi boot. "[This] new style for 2009 targets all facets of law enforcement, from street to undercover and [everything] in between," says Dayna Panales, Magnum's public relations manager. "These boots are built for comfort, durability and value." The Elite Force features composite non-metallic hardware and full-grain leather upper.

     Other Magnum models with Ion-Mask are the Elite Spider Recon 8.0 HPi and the Precision Ultra Lite WPi CT. All will be available via Magnum's Web site, Panales says, by the end of August this year.

     Also in protection, Point Blank Solutions, Inc. announced ThorShield last year as a way to shield officers from electric shock via electronic control device (ECD) discharge. ECD barbs are small enough to penetrate the weave of Level IIIA ballistic panels, thus ThorShield is a conductive lining sewn inside a concealable or tactical armor carrier. The durable, flexible, lightweight (and even machine washable) material completes the circuit from a stun device, carrying and dissipating its current rather than the human body. Even if one probe hits the vest and the other hits the skin, the effect will be lessened.

     Michael Foreman, senior vice president of domestic and international sales at Pompano Beach (Florida)-based Point Blank, says the company has been able to adapt its production processes to make the material in more ways than just a carrier liner. ThorShield-lined gloves are available now, and Point Blank plans to include it in uniforms themselves in coming years.

     ThorShield is a standard feature of Point Blank's VISION Level IIIA, a 0.88-pound-per-square-foot vest made ergonomically designed for, and popular among, bike and foot patrol officers. It is also an optional upgrade to Point Blank's Hi-Lite and C-Series lines of armor, for about $60 per application. ThorShield is available only to law enforcement, corrections or other qualified individuals. "If we do sell to other markets, we will ensure it doesn't get into the hands of undesirable individuals," notes Foreman, a retired law enforcement officer.

     As more departments look for ways to save money, bicycle and foot patrols will become more important. But so will protecting the officers assigned to them — both physically and legally. These offerings stand to reduce not just fuel costs, but also the indirect costs associated with injuries and lawsuits.

     Christa M. Miller is a New England-based freelance writer who specializes in public safety issues. She can be reached at christammiller@gmail.com.

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