Magazine article Security Management

Shining Light on Nonlethal Weapons: A New Device That Uses Light to Incapacitate Suspects Is the Latest Tool in Law Enforcement's Nonlethal Arsenal

Magazine article Security Management

Shining Light on Nonlethal Weapons: A New Device That Uses Light to Incapacitate Suspects Is the Latest Tool in Law Enforcement's Nonlethal Arsenal

Article excerpt

IMAGINE A FLASHLIGHT that temporarily blinds people and makes them nauseous, thus incapacitating them without using damaging lasers or causing long-term harm. It sounds like magic, but it's actually a new entry in the non lethal weapon category.

The manufacturer, Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS) of Torrance, California, calls the new tool the LED Incapacitator (or LEDI, with LED standing for light emitting diodes). It could give law enforcement and security forces yet another way to subdue a violent subject, depending on how it performs in tests at the Pennsylvania State University's Institute for Non-lethal Defense Technologies.

The LEDI's bright lights prevent eyes from focusing for a few seconds, comparable to magnifying the effect of a picture flash.

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"We consider it a nonlethal way to disorient potential attackers or criminals and to give the police those few seconds that they need to bring that person under control," says IOS CEO John Farina.

The LEDI's development and testing has been funded in part by a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grant of about $1 million, according to Farina. It's part of a growing legion of nonlethal weapon work supported by the government and private companies to provide military, police, security, and others with alternative options in potentially dangerous situations.

The LEDI, which Farina believes will work in the range of ten to 20 feet from a subject, has advantages even among other nonlethal weapons, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Commander Sid Heal, who consulted on the device. For exam pie, it does not have residual effects after a person becomes adjusted to the visual over-stimulation. Additionally, there is no need for decontamination and no chance of cross contamination, as can occur when pepper spray hits police officers as well as suspects during an incident.

Heal also points out that after purchasing the flashlight and batteries (which can be configured to be rechargeable), there aren't any additional costs. By contrast, Taser cartridges must be replaced after use and pepper spray must be replenished.

Nonlethal weapons provide a good intermediate ground between the extremes of lethal weapons and not arming at all, says security consultant Thomas Seamon, CPP.

Seamon says that an increased number of companies that he knows of have been arming their security officers with nonlethal weapons in recent years. …

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