USA – California company making futuristic stun shield for police, military (2011-02-20)

Published on February 20 2010 by admin

[[SUMMARY / COMMENTS: A new taser-type device on the market: ArmStar Co. in Los Angeles – with no known links to TASER International – has unveiled the BodyGuard, “the latest in law enforcement nonlethal stun devices. … The BodyGuard slips over a forearm with a glove that is fitted with a switch. When squeezed, it activates loud electrodes packing more than 1 million volts. The arm shield will also be capable of recording visual and audio evidence of the attack. Company officials hope to have the stun shield available to police departments, prison officials and the military by year’s end.”]]
Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Domingo Ramirez Jr.

 

The arm shield's modular system can be adapted for different agencies. 

The arm shield’s modular system can be adapted for different agencies. (Courtesy of ArmStar)

Science fiction movies have for years shown criminals being subdued by a cop or superhero with electrified arm shields.

The bad guys might see it for real in a few months.

ArmStar Co. in Los Angeles has unveiled the BodyGuard, the latest in law enforcement nonlethal stun devices.

The BodyGuard slips over a forearm with a glove that is fitted with a switch. When squeezed, it activates loud electrodes packing more than 1 million volts. The arm shield will also be capable of recording visual and audio evidence of the attack.

Company officials hope to have the stun shield available to police departments, prison officials and the military by year’s end.

“There are too many lives that could be saved not to try and get this out in the market as soon as possible,” said inventor Dave Brown of Orange County, Calif.

But critics say the device poses a health risk and is open to abuse.

“Amnesty International believes electro-shock weapons should never be used as close-up compliance tools as they can facilitate torture and ill-treatment,” spokeswoman Angela Wright said. Amnesty is a global agency that campaigns to end human rights abuses. Brown argues that BodyGuard was developed as a defensive device.

In 2009, 57,268 police officers were injured in the line of duty in the U.S., according to FBI statistics. That same year, 48 were killed.

The arm shield produces a menacing electrical arc that sounds like an M-80 firecracker, Brown said.

“I made it to intimidate so a suspect would think twice about attacking an officer,” he said. “But if that suspect does attack, I wanted the officer to have something to defend himself with during the encounter.”

Originally, Brown, whose background includes working as a Hollywood cameraman, started to build the BodyGuard as a way to protect himself from wild animal attacks as he hiked around his Southern California home.

He soon he realized that BodyGuard would be more useful against criminals.

Brown has recruited some high-profile partners for his venture. Actor Kevin Costner is a principal backer (Brown is a longtime friend of Costner’s wife). Another partner is retired Sheriff John Bunnell, who was the host of World’s Wildest Police Videos.

ArmStar is headed by Andrew Quintero.

He said the arm shield’s modular system, which can be adapted to meet the needs of specific agencies, is one of its strongest selling points.

“More advanced versions of it could include video cameras, flashlights and still cameras,” Quintero said.

Brown estimated that some versions could sell for as little as $500, but company officials had not determined an exact price.

Officers with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will test and evaluate several prototypes in a few weeks.

In May, the shield will be demonstrated during a mock prison riot in West Virginia

ArmStar officials will contact Texas law enforcement officials in the next few months.

An official with the Texas Police Chiefs Association said he wasn’t sure how practical the device would be for street officers.

“It certainly is futuristic,” said Kerrville Police Chief John M. Young Jr., the association’s president. “I’m curious about how it’s deployed. If not meant to be worn all the time, where do you store it, and how do you access it in a timely manner to use it?”

Amnesty International officials have said that stun weapons such as Tasers are potentially lethal.

Since 2001, medical examiners have listed Tasers as a cause or contributor to the deaths of about 50 people, according to the organization’s statistics.

“Amnesty International opposes any shock weapon that is designed to be used in a hands-on situation, close up and worn on the arm with a switch built in a glove,” Wright said. “The ease with which it can be used makes it more liable to misuse and even torture.”

But Brown said the arm shields are futuristic body armor.

“We are trying something new to help an officer,” he said, “because they put their lives on the line every day that they go to work.”

 

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