The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD), the largest sheriff’s department in the country, is considered trailblazing in its work with sophisticated, futuristic law enforcement weapons.
The research done by LASD’s technology unit has become especially important as terrorism and changing times introduce new threats and challenges that are altering the role played by the law enforcement officers.
The LASD’s Technology Exploration Unit was established in 1996 by Commander Sid Heal, who previously worked as gear procurer in Somalia as a reservist in the U.S. Marine Corps, but the unit is often plagued by staffing and funding shortages.
Instead of purchasing futuristic weapons, Heal serves as a consultant to contractors, government officials, and private inventors by testing out the weapons while they are still in development. The LASD ends up adopting less than 2 percent of the weapons it investigates because the weapons must be safe, reliable, practical, easy to use, and reasonably priced.
Some weapons being investigated by the LASD include bulletproof S.W.A.T. trucks; strobe lamps that cause temporary blindness; GPS tags that affix to vehicles after being launched; flashlights capable of ejecting pepper spray; nonlethal machine guns; extra-loud bullhorns; radar systems that can see through walls; spy balls equipped with cameras that transmit video images to officers; sensors able to detect the origin of a gun blast; and lightweight airborne surveillance craft.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center (NLECTC) from the Popular Science (02/07) ; Vol. 270, No. 2, P. 38; Kargl, Reinhard.