Nearly 50,000 people thronged the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, from January 15 to 18, 2009, for the 31st Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show and Conference. This was the largest SHOT Show yet, with more than 1,800 exhibitors presenting their wares in many associated shooting industry areas. A major growth within the show is the tactical law enforcement section, which has grown steadily since its introduction several years ago. In addition to the firearm exhibits, a variety of products with technical law enforcement functions were also available.
After last year's announcement of its acquisition of Armor Holdings, this year BAE has announced the reorganization of its law enforcement-related lines under the Safariland banner. Safariland is a respected name in leather and holsters; bringing all the lines under its name makes name recognition easier and consumer confidence in the various lines stronger. This does not have an effect on the Forensics Source line; it is still based on Lightning Powder, Identicator, NIK Public Safety, ODV, EVI-PAQ and Projectina.
The Forensics Source catalog has continued to grow. One new set of items that should appeal to the crime scene investigator is a line of vests designed for use by CSI. It's available as a fully equipped vest, or as a base vest to which wearers can add pouches as needed, a capability that has been needed for a long time.
Forensics Source has also expanded its training materials. A wide variety of teaching kits are available for use in school and college programs, academies and specialized training classes. From fingerprints to firearms, anthropology, serology and more, Forensics Source has materials to assist instructors.
American Gunsmithing Institute
Advanced training in firearms is important to various law enforcement personnel. The armorer is responsible for oversight of an agency's own firearms, as well as authorized, personally owned firearms of individual members. Firearms examiners must be proficient in complete disassembly of any firearm to permit them to determine if a firearm submitted to their lab is safely functional. While agencies are often able to arrange armorer training for firearms they purchase in bulk for inventory, the wide variety of firearms on the market precludes providing such training for all makes and models. Indeed, most armorer training is only aimed at common military and law enforcement guns; the wide variety of firearms designed for the sporting and personal defense markets are mostly orphans for such training.
The American Gunsmithing Institute is a video-based training program for firearms. It offers videos in two different realms; first is consumer based, aimed at the gun owner who wishes to upgrade his own firearms, as many enjoy building AR-15 and 1911 clones. The second is its professional gunsmithing programs. This is an extensive series of videos conducted by master gunsmith Robert Dunlap, a gunsmith with 35 years experience and former instructor at a collegiate, hands-on gunsmithing program. Unlike book-based correspondence gunsmith courses, this is a see-and-do program. Additionally, Dunlap adds his experiences to the program, giving the student insights not available from other correspondence programs.
There is no substitute for hands-on classroom training in the firearms field. Distance learning is tempered by the student's interest. However, with the few classroom programs available, and paucity of gunsmiths offering apprenticeships, the AGI programs perform the valuable service of bringing “almost” classroom training to the field.
Protection from flash fire is an important consideration for a growing number of law enforcement personnel. Bomb technicians, SWAT operators, environmental investigators and clandestine laboratory investigators are routinely exposed to flammable hazardous atmospheres. Materials such as Nomex have provided flash resistance for years; however, they have shortcomings. None wick away moisture efficiently, resulting in either cold clothing in cold environments, or lack of heat dissipation in warm areas. Also, many of these fabrics were designed for flash resistance; prolonged exposure to flame results in melting of the fabric to the wearer.
DRIFIRE Performance FR Wear was developed to overcome these shortcomings. DRIFIRE Performance FR fabric is not only flash resistant, but also flame resistant, meeting a variety of military and ASTM fire-resistance standards. It wicks away moisture, providing both a greater cooling effect, faster drying than cotton, and much greater effects than other flash-resistant fabrics in use. Further, it is treated with anti-odor and anti-microbial materials, providing the user, even after extremely long periods of wear, better hygiene.
Because of the IED campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military has forbidden the use of polyester fabrics in those war zones. DRIFIRE has become a popular clothing line among service personnel there; not only does it provide flash and fire protection from IEDs and other hazards, but its wicking capabilities provide a comfort level not available from other protection clothing.
DRIFIRE currently produces men's underwear (long and short T-shirts, long johns and boxers), women's underwear (bras and briefs), sweatshirts, heavyweight long-sleeve T-shirts in highly visible colors, balaclavas, button-up work shirts and coveralls.
Adventure Medical Kits
Most response vehicles come equipped with an almost identical first aid kit - a 6-inch by 8-inch metal or plastic box, with an assortment of small bandage materials, a universal antibiotic cream, some analgesics, alcohol wipes and perhaps a few other items. It gets used to tend an occasional scratch or minor cut, but otherwise is rarely used. Still, it is not unusual for any law officer to be the first on the scene of a serious injury and need adequate supplies, or to be out of a vehicle, traveling on foot a considerable distance from the vehicle, and need medical support now.
Adventure Medical Kits has been producing kits aimed at the outdoorsman for a number of years. The kits range from small pocket kits, designed for treating minor injuries, through professionally trained medical personnel on outdoor treks. A newer addition to the line is the Tactical Field/Trauma with QuickClot.
Carried in a 5-inch by 7-inch black fabric zipper bag with an end carry loop and MOLLE attachment straps on the back, it contains a variety of materials for bleeding control: Assorted sizes of adhesive and gauze bandaging, trauma pads, nitrile gloves, disinfectant wipes, antibiotic cream, analgesics, a medical care book written for outdoor emergencies and a 25-gram QuickClot hemostatic sponge. Not a medic kit, it is designed to be carried by a trekker, fisherman or emergency responder in a pocket or attached to gear to provide immediate access to supplies designed for rapid control of bleeding.
Every law enforcement professional, whether patrol officer, tactical operator, detective, or crime scene investigator, should have adequate first aid supplies available to ensure preservation of life when major injuries occur. Adventure Medical Kits Tactical Field/Trauma with QuickClot is such a kit, stocked with supplies aimed at controlling blood loss, and packaged to allow for carry whether in the car, on the scene or working on foot.
Gerber Legendary Blades has been a leader in developing innovative tools for many years. One of several such tools is the eFECT (Field Expedient Cleaning Tool), designed as a maintenance tool for members of the military to use in caring for their individual weapons, especially M16 family rifles. This is a simple tool with three instruments on each side that fold out from the opposite ends and lock in place with a spring loaded catch. The tools include a front sight adjustment (designed to fit either a four- or five-prong sight), a carbon scraper, a pin punch, a flat driver, and two studs threaded to accept Otis Technology tools, coming with a nylon brush and a curved pick. The entire tool comes in an ACO camouflage belt pouch with a combination belt strap/MOLLE attachment. While designed for military use, it is also valuable for law enforcement, such as an armorer responsible for an agency's firearms, or the individual officer maintaining firearms, especially if issued or authorized to carry an AR-15 family rifle.
Crime scene investigators (as well as many other investigators) find need for a variety of tools, but need to simplify their storage as well. Gerber's new Kick Axe provides an innovative large hatchet, capable of the type of chopping faced by most investigators, with a twist, or more accurately, a fold. The unit folds in thirds to a size easily stored in a tool kit or other case, and which can be carried in the cargo pockets of many of the pants now in use.
Cyalume Light Technology
Chemiluminescence, the production of light through a cold chemical reaction, quickly brings to mind Cyalume and the original ChemLight. However Cyalume produces a wide range of chemical light bar products, from the Mini ChemLight often used for marking the back of hats for night navigation, through the LightShape circles used for trail marking or area illumination, through a variety of light sticks from 4 inches to 15 inches long, in a variety of colors, light output levels, and durations.
Among its products, Cyalume packages a kit as a replacement for road flares (fusees). How many wrecks result in some release of hazardous materials, especially gasoline? Yet we continue to see fusees line the road to direct traffic flow. The 10-inch snap light packaged in the 9-27049 kit (a 10 pack with wire stands) provides up to 2 hours of constant green illumination, without any heat signature. Indeed, just for flagging traffic, the light bars are a valuable safety device: Highly visible, yet not putting out combustion by-products to burn the user or passersby.
The light sticks provide many other advantages. At a clandestine drug lab, light bars can be tossed about the scene, providing lighting in the potentially hazardous atmosphere. High intensity light sticks have been used as distraction devices, thrown into a darkened room with a suspect to disorient the individual while providing the entry team light to work by.
Cyalume also produces several models of LightStations, designed for permanent installation for emergency egress direction. Several models are designed so once a protective door is opened, four to 10 SnapLights are activated, flooding an area with light for evacuation. The Model 20 is designed so when the door is opened, one SnapLight is activated, providing some lighting, while an additional 19 SnapLights are available for occupants to carry and use as individual light sources while evacuating. These are excellent safety tools for laboratories, crime scene or bomb squad facilities, etc.
Paul Laska is a retired law enforcement officer who specialized in criminalistics and bomb disposal. He may be reached through his Web site, www.paulrlaskaforensicconsulting.com.