While Law Enforcement Technology does not hold a bias toward non-law enforcement specific equipment, some contributed ideas for alternative tools for three aspects of law enforcement include:Tactical
- The fiberglass handle of a sledge hammer can be used as an option to the tactical ram for breaching. Officers can carry this common tool in their trunks without a specific storage system and such sledge hammers can be found at almost any commercial consumer hardware store. Limitations to usefulness can include a break or fracture in the handle or the possibility that the chosen size or weight may not provide enough force for the intended task.
- A telescopic pole originally intended to hang holiday lights can be outfitted with a video camera and used as a make-shift tactical pole cam.
"We bought a wireless camera, built a heavy-duty housing for it and devised one [of these tools] for a relatively low price," says Logue. He adds that it is possible to wire the camera from its audio-video ports to a consumer monitor on an officer's back.
- An automotive telescopic mirror and/or magnet can be used for evidence or drug searching and for material retrieval in smaller places. This telescopic pole and mirror were designed for automotive searching for engine problems. The telescopic pole and magnet can retrieve dropped magnetic tools and parts. Small, tight hidden places could potentially be a hazard when searched with a bare or gloved hand. Using the telescopic mirror and magnet can aid officers in searching for, locating and retrieving evidence.
- Zip ties can be used as handcuff alternatives to the large zip ties; if the large ties are too large for available storage, these smaller versions take three to secure a suspect: one on each wrist and one holding the ties together.
- Certain consumer mp3 players on the market are able to record conversations to an mp3 file. Instead of a potentially expensive hidden wire, the consumer mp3 player may be able to record conversations while the officer holding it assumes the guise of someone listening to music.
- Many common cellular phones can fill in for an officer's note pad. A voice memo can be recorded on the phone for future reference, and the result will be a digital recording that won't be as easily lost as a scrap of paper or a note scribbled on a wrapper.
- Another innovative use for cellular phones involves those that have the ability to record a the dialogue on a call.
"You can program the phone to record both sides of the conversation or block your own voice from the playback," notes Logue.
Such recordings can be limited by law, though. Conversation recording regulations vary from state to state; in Missouri, it is acceptable to record a conversation as long as one contributing party is aware of the recording. Also, additional software will be needed to retrieve the recording from the phone.
- The blood pressure/heart rate monitor clip may not be a tool that would seem useful to an undercover officer, but it can be used as ruse — a crafty way to obtain the illusion of a polygraph test in suspect interviews. The effect can be created by attaching the stripped wire end of a finger heart rate monitor clip to a laptop USB port.
- Red evidence tape can be used to create red light by taping it over the vehicle interior dome light to save night vision during surveillance operations. Logue also suggests any red material applicable can be taped onto the light to achieve the same effect.
- Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) radios may be able to transmit on a different frequency from many police scanners, allowing officers to communicate off the police scanner and rendering listening suspects none the wiser.
- A remote controlled (RC)mini-helicopter may appear to be a neighborhood child's toy but could be outfitted with a wireless camera to provide surveillance without moving officers too close to the situation. However, using a helicopter for this effect brings its own limitations such as wind conditions, flight time and load capacity. The weather on any given day might not allow the RC helicopter to fly with accuracy to the intended location. A short flight time may force officers closer to the intended landing position for surveillance, thus putting officers closer to potential danger. The helicopter's load capacity — its ability to carry an amount of weight — may be too low to handle the surveillance gear that would need to be attached to meeting the requirements of the mission. In addition, officers might have to receive a homeowner's permission to land the craft on a roof.