Saturday, December 04, 2004

Coming soon to a police department near you

It should come as no surprise to many that this nation's police departments often end up adopting tools originally developed for the military. Some of these end up in the hands of law enforcement as "surplus", such as helicopters, tanks and armored personnel carriers as well as guns. Other advances, such as "flash-bangs", night vision equipment and body armor end up getting marketed to both the military and the cops at the same time.

So what new tools might we expect to see in the hands of the police soon? Well, here's one of the hottest. It's a ray gun that fires a heat beam that has the effect of having a hot clothes iron placed on the skin of the target.
"The weapon could be used for crowd control and is effective beyond the range of bullets fired by small arms, The effective range of an AK-47 assault rifle is as far as 273 yards, while an M16A2 rifle has a range of 400 meters."

It's a military weapon, you say. The cops would never use something like that, would they? They would. The article goes on to say:
"Raytheon could expand the market by selling a smaller version to law-enforcement agencies. The company is working on a smaller, tripod-mounted version for police forces, and the price would have to come down to a few hundred thousand dollars each to be affordable."

But OK, they would only use such a thing on those who deserve it, right? Ask the 6 year old who recently found himself at the wrong end of a 50,000 volt police tazer. But these kinds of non-lethal weapons are safe, right? Right.

The next story reminds me too much of "Star Wars", the movie, not the space based boondoggle. Remember all the gun firing robots streaming out of the Empire's ships? They're here now.

"Next year, the U.S. Army will give robots machine guns, although humans will firmly be in control of them.

The Army next March will begin to deploy Talon robots from Waltham, Mass.-based Foster-Miller. The robots will be mounted with M240 or M249 machine guns, said a Foster-Miller spokesman. The units also can be mounted with a rocket launcher. Defense agencies have been testing an armed version of the Talon since 2003.... The Talon weighs about 80 pounds, travels at 5.2 miles per hour and can go about 20 miles on a battery charge. In "wake up" mode, in which the unit conducts surveillance but remains mostly dormant, a battery charge can last about a week. The Talon was used in Bosnia to dispose of grenades and during the cleanup of the World Trade Center.

The company has received more than $65 million in orders from various defense agencies."
Look for one on a street near you soon.

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