IACP Digest: Visiting the vendors
Mid-way through my attendance at the IACP session on domestic and international terrorism on Sunday morning, I received a text message from my friend and colleague Hannah Simon: “TASER has an AXON for you.”
My carefully laid plan for the afternoon was immediately rendered OBE — overtaken by events — but I was elated to find out that I’d be allowed to use a nifty new head-mounted video camera on for interviews with various vendors in the exhibit hall. The videos will be posted to Police1 in coming days, but in the meantime I’ll provide you a glimpse into what I heard yesterday on the floor.
Before I get into the stuff I filmed, let me first tell you that having worn the AXON for about four and a half hours, I can say without equivocation that it’s an awesome device. If you’ve ever taken your sunglasses and popped them over your head so they’re still resting on your ears, but on the back of your head, you know exactly what it feels like to wear the AXON. Where you look, it looks, what you see, it records. There’s a “privacy” setting of course, so I’m happy to report that I did not record myself in the convention center rest room (I hear that’s happened to a few people, but not me). I’ll do some additional reporting on the AXON down the road, but now I’ll just give you a taste of some of the things I heard this afternoon.
The Crown Vic, which is retiring from service in a little under two years from now, will soon be replaced by a new, as yet un-announced vehicle from Ford Motor Company. A company spokesperson told me that officers can expect to have the same level of attention to detail in the next generation of squad car as they’ve grown accustomed to in the past quarter century of sitting in the Vic.
One of the things commonly found in the Crown Vic is the Panasonic Arbitrator in-car video system. I went the Toughbook booth to get a look at the next evolution on that product, called the Toughbook Arbitrator 360°. If you haven’t yet done so, you should check out the excellent synopsis written by Police1 Products Columnist Lindsey Bertomen.
Speaking of evolution, one of the things I discuss with George Olsen at U.S. Armor every time we talk is that revolutions tend to cause unintended consequences. His company is taking the evolutionary — rather than revolutionary — approach to rolling out .06-complaint armor. While visiting with Olsen, I learned that he’ll be out on the road after IACP to visit with an officer whose life was saved by his company’s product. She is welcoming a new baby into the world in coming months and George will attend her baby shower. Olsen told me that this will be the first baby born to an officer who was saved by one of his company’s vests.
The good folks at Smith and Wesson told me all about the new M&P 15-22 rimfire rifle, which solves many (if not all) of the problems present in most .22 conversion kits for the AR platform — such as the fact that a bullet is forced to travel several inches in an unrifled tube before it reaches the barrel and its rifling. The M&P 15-22 is nearly identical to its 5.56 and .223 relatives — safety, selector switch, bolt, collapsible stock, and all other mechanics and features are exactly the same — so it’s an excellent way for agencies to push a lot of rounds downrange in a training environment without chewing up the budget on ammunition.
I visited 5.11 Tactical to hear about their unique manufacturing process and a new line of Teflon-coated duty uniforms. The guys at Uncle Mikes showed me the latest in duty belts and gun cleaners. I went to the folks at Segway to get the rundown on their purpose-built special edition two-wheeled vehicle for police officers (it can run down an Olympic sprinter), and our friends at RedMan and Blue Guns gave me the skinny on the latest in their line of training gear. Lenco gave me a tour of the Bear SWAT vehicle and FLIR showed me a new hand-held thermal imaging device for patrol officers.
Finally, I talked for a while with our friends at TASER about the X3, which I was then able to test out at the TASER party the following night. Very, very cool device.