Law enforcement flashlight temporarily blinds assailant
To develop the flashlight, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded an $800,000 contract to Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS), a Torrance, Calif.-based company specializing in optical sensing technology.
Called the LED Incapacitator, the flashlight flashes multiple colors of LED lights at several specific frequencies. When shined into someone’s eyes, the strobe lights disorient, nauseate and even temporarily blind the individual. The effects last long enough to give law enforcement officers an upper hand, allowing them to tackle and even handcuff suspects before the assailant can inflict harm.
“The natural human response is that they are going to wince or squint or turn their face away,” said Commander Sid Hale with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, which helped develop the Incapacitator. “This is about the safest thing you can find and still be considered some type of force. It is about one step above screaming and yelling at the guy.”
Safety is prime concern
According to Bob Lieberman, president of IOS, the flashlight will not cause long-term damage to the eyes. “We’ve been very careful to design this so that the maximum permissable limit for human eye safety is never exceeded,” he said.
“In effect what you are trying to do is get the person to close their eyes and make it hard for them to keep being aggressive and coming at you,” said David Throckmorton with the DHS.
The DHS hopes that all law enforcement officers will be able to use the flashlight weapon to subdue, but not kill, suspects who refuse to follow orders. Other groups that may be outfitted with the device include Secret Service agents, border patrol guards, air marshals and members of the Coast Guard. Applications also range from crowd control to mounting the flashlights on prison walls to stop inmate riots.
Human trials of the Incapacitator flashlight are expected to begin soon at Pennsylvania State University’s Institute of Non-Lethal Defense Technologies. If all goes well, IOS expects the flashlights will be available to the law enforcement community by fall of this year. The company even hopes a smaller size model will be sold in retail stores as a personal security device.
For more information about the cutting-edge technologies of IOS, visit http://www.intopsys.com/.