Trendy trends

An editor's thoughts on trends in law enforcement products


Hello,

As one of the Editors of Officer.com sister magazines, Law Enforcement Product News and Law Enforcement Technology, I come across a great number of new products.

This comes with the territory – my inbox is basically a collection of what you would see if tomorrow had a police product tradeshow. Reading about so many products so often, you start recognizing specific specifications bouncing from one product to another. Often people call these “trends” and I agree and disagree with this.

A trend, to me, means change. What once wasn't available is … and popular. Soon that concept runs its course and something new, something BRAND new, something innovative pops its gopher head out of the hole. (Feel free to picture Caddy Shack here.) Soon enough that gopher’s caught – and soon enough that’s just “the way things are.” And that’s where I disagree with dubbing something as a trend.

Let me try and explain. An idea can inspire a trend, but what happens if it’s a good idea ... a really good idea? That’s no longer a trend – it transcends a trend if you will. Can a certain feature/specification be recognized as such a good idea that it’s next to common sense to incorporate it in future products?

To put it simply, a trend has the opportunity to go away – a good idea remains.

Going forward

Since my experience with law enforcement is through its products, this blog will focus on that: products. Each issue of LEPN includes a section of hand-picked products of the editorial staff that – as the deck explains – “caught our attention.”

To celebrate and kick off this blog I’d like to go through 2012 thus-far and highlight a few of the products of that section here. Future entries will dive a bit further.

StarChase updated its pursuit management system

The description says “major enhancements … include an on-board air compressor and a single pressure vessel design.” It works much like the original: lets you tag your suspect with a very sticky projectile and sends GPS coordinates out to the necessary people.

US Night Vision attached an iPhone to its AN/PVS-14 night vision system

Full disclosure, I’m not nor have I ever been an officer of the law – and I have not had many opportunities to look through a night vision system without the chance of burning out my retinas. (Tradeshow floors are bright.) What got my attention was … well … it was attached to an iPhone. And no, before you mention it, those camera apps that give your picture the night vision effect don’t work. At least not the one's I've downloaded on my iPod Touch. As a member of the media I can appreciate the image of my readers and an officer carrying an iPhone with them searching for some evidence when safe would look a lot less militaristic than a high-powered head-mounted goggle.

Colt’s LE901-16S multi-caliber rifle

More disclosure here. Save for a .22 many years ago in a small gravel pit in the north woods of Wisconsin with my father, I’ve never shot a rifle before SHOT Show 2012. (Gasp!)

During the show's media day I took my trigger finger for a ride experiencing as many firearms as time allowed. I sat at this Colt firearm a rookie, informed my supervising trainer of my complete non-experience and he took it in stride – almost as well as the rifle to its newest user.

To my surprise I hit the target, then again, and again. It surprised the trainer how many times that metal plate rang that wonderful sound. Take that to mean what you will. I came away from that rifle knowing that with no practice or formal training I could not have been "just a good shot," but that it must have been that easy to fire. Other firearms that day were not as forgiving.

You can watch and learn more about this from Colt’s Jason Little. You can't tell, but I'm standing just behind and left of the camera.

Smart bullets

I spoke with Nick Verini – owner of the SmartRounds company at a good length. We discussed why the term non-lethal and ultimately what the heck a microchip was doing in his rubber bullets.

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