Tools For A Variety Of Situations And Distances.
The oldest-known weapon used by man was an impact weapon, be it a bone, rock or tree branch. In this most-simple form, they were used, literally, to beat back early man. Today we have more modern options (we might call them batons), yet most are still a variant of the age-old weapon. And today’s technology offers us a wide variety of not only impact weapons, but also restraints and even leveraging devices.
Officers need to have more than one option to control suspects and to assure compliance. This has created the less lethal part of the trade. Less-lethal options for police can be categorized as contact weapons, chemical munitions, electronic discharge or dedicated specialty ammunition. Often, these tools can be employed against individuals or crowds, depending on the situation. Generally these are all deployable by one or two officers, helping to assure a rapid response in most situations. Keep in mind, there’s often a need for additional cover officers if the less-lethal option fails to work.
Monadnock’s 9152 Auto Lock Defender is one of the newest offerings for police. This 22″ expandable baton comes with a Power Safety Tip to reduce the chances of the baton being used as a spear, yet will deliver a firm blow. The tip acts as a grip if you’re using the 9152 as a control device. The Super Grip ensures you a secure grip in the worst weather, and protects your knuckles should you have to deliver a hand blow. When the threat has ended, retracting the 9152 is easy, thanks to the end-cap push button release.
If you prefer a handheld multiple-option tool, the Aegis MK63 Trident might work for you. The MK63 looks like a side handle baton, minus the baton. In its place is a chemical dispenser and a neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI) device. You can add a white light for optical disorientation, and the MK63 can also be used as an impact weapon/lever. Having both chemical and NMI capacity allows you to move up the force continuum quickly and efficiently without changing weapons. If the chemical fails you can apply an NMI charge simply by touching the suspect and activating the discharge device. This reduces the time the suspect has to react and the time they have to continue causing a ruckus.
Editor Suzi gave you a sneak peek at ASP’s newest expandable baton, the Talon Disc Loc Baton, in the last issue (Stuff I Like, February 2013). Here’s a more in-depth look at it and the Talon Airweight, the next logical addition to the ASP family of batons. The Talon twins operate with a new locking mechanism — two opposing discs — rotating into grooves machined into the tubes to lock the shafts in place. Opening the baton is the same as their other models (sharp wrist snap), or by pulling on the extended tip. In a departure from their normal retraction methods, ASP uses a push button at the end of the grip to collapse these new models. Using your thumb, push the button to release the springs holding the locking discs in place, and with gentle pressure against any surface (hard or soft) the shafts will retract. You can even retract the baton while reholstering it in a SideBreak scabbard.
As of the writing of this article, the Talon is only available in the black-chrome finish and comes in three lengths: 40cm, 50cm and 60cm (16″, 20″ and 24″). Since ASP batons have never taken up much real estate on your gun belt, and now that they’re more convenient than ever to open and close, you owe it to yourself to give the Talons serious consideration.
If you need a tool to keep uncooperative folks out of contact range, TASER is the tool of choice. TASER’s X26 is the most common of the electronic control devices, however TASER offers the X2 and X3. These allow an officer to have more than one set of electrodes without a reload. The X2 offers two shots while the X3 gives you three. Each shot on the X2/3 has an independent laser for greater accuracy. Like the X26, the X2/3 will keep you out of arms reach to ensure the safety of you and others around you. If you work in a jurisdiction where defendants are known to raise chronic use of force complaints, TASER offers a high-definition camera/battery pack for the X2. Nifty.
If the X26 or X2/3 are too small for a crowd, the Shockwave may be your answer. It’s a less-lethal area-denial weapon. The Shockwave is standalone and can be used as a single, double or triple bank system to give you up to 18 EDC units. If you require still more, the units can be linked horizontally or arranged to give interlocking fields of fire. The Shockwave can be mounted on its legs, to the bumper of a squad car, to the copula of your SWAT vehicle or any number of other options. This may sound like an extreme application, but with the riots of the OWS and G20 Summit protests in mind, the Shockwave gives an agency another option to control extreme crowds.
Another area denial/coverage tool is the MK-9S OC Vapor with Wand Adapter from Defense Technology. This is a .7-percent OC spray with an effective range of about 15′. The 12-ounce canister is ideal for use on groups of protestors/combatants and comes with a wand you can attach for use under a jail, prison or holding cell door. You’ll get eight to 10 bursts out of the canister, which will persuade many folks to cease and desist.
What makes the MK-9S OC Vapor effective is just that, the vapor-dispensing system. The OC is dispensed in a fine mist rather than a stream, minimizing surface contamination because most of the material quickly evaporates. The desired effect is the same: the unruly group turns into a bunch of boogery bellyaching boobs when they’ve inhaled the OC vapors — even through a barrier such as a handkerchief.
Pepper Ball Launchers
To keep individuals and crowds further back, your agency may want to consider one of the new pepper ball launchers. I looked at two companies, which as of Jan. 1, 2013 formed a partnership, or alliance if you will, to provide you with a launcher resembling a biggie-sized M4-style rifle and a nice cross section of payloads. This union brings the SR-468 launcher from RAP4 together with training rounds and smart bullets from SmartRounds Technology.
The SR-468 looks like an M4 carbine on steroids, thanks to the larger barrel bore and the larger diameter stock. These visual clues indicate this is not your real carbine. The SR-468 also comes in red, yellow or blue hardware so you can quickly identify the unit as a less lethal or force-on-force training weapon. The beauty of this launcher is it can use any of the 68-caliber projectiles made by RAP4 or rifled rounds made by SmartRounds.
SmartRounds Technology offers training rounds, denoted as “680 rounds” that come with various payloads depending on your needs. The 680s are offered with soft rubber, talc powder, marking paint or water payloads. The “real” rounds, for use on bad guys, are named 685i Smart Rounds (kind of sounds like a BMW model), and will carry payloads of compressed gas, pepper powder or metal powder.
They’re still testing HEMI (Human Electromuscular Incapacitation) projectile technology and hope to have these rounds available soon. Just imagine not having to deal with the limitations of other wired devices; you can literally reach out and zap someone — no strings attached. They’re called “smart” rounds for a reason: they use a micro mechanical system to expel their payload. In essence (and oversimplified), a microchip embedded in the projectile acts as a tiny accelerometer; the moment the projectile makes contact with the target and senses sufficient acceleration, centrifugal force and a sudden change of velocity (∆v for you traffic geeks), the payload is activated. This prevents overpenetration and assures proper delivery of the payload.
Effective range of the SR-468 is about 150 yards when using the rifled SmartRounds, about 150′ when using standard paintball-type rounds. This M4-like system allows officers to quickly learn how to deploy the weapon, and is more cost effective than many of the less-lethal systems from firearms manufactures. Because the SR-468 is essentially a paintball gun, it can be used as such for force-on-force training.
If you wish to use existing equipment (shotguns) in your inventory for less-lethal applications, your agency should look at Lightfield Less Lethal Projectiles. Lightfield offers 12- and 20-gauge loaded rounds, delivering impact and noise-diversion options. These function best in pump-action shotguns, and the rounds are safe and accurate to deploy from ranges as close as 3′, depending on the payload. Lightfield dramatically reduces the odds of overpenetration because there are no lead pellets used in any of their payloads. They’re loaded with proprietary polymer stars, rubber buckshot, rubber slugs and noise-diversion shells. The payloads are easily identifiable through the clear shot shells so you don’t confuse one with another.
We only barely touched on some of the less-lethal options available today. You’ll find many new less-lethal weapons coming to the market as they become more effective and dependable. New technology is developed constantly, and we’ll report on it as it comes to market.