The CIVICS system makes the interior of a Crown Victoria more spacious. Photos JP Molnar
The Ibis Tek HID spotlight is a major advance in patrol-vehicle lighting, and comes with years of engineering culled from designing military and high- security protection systems. Photos JP Molnar
HID’s infrared option allows you to monitor dark areas on a dash-mounted screen.Photos JP Molnar
Unity Manufacturing’s EYEBEAM works as a supplemental warning system by concentrating three invisible laser beams in the same area the spotlight is aimed.Photos JP Molnar
The mirror, approximately the same size as the standard Crown Vic mirror, uses LED readouts in various colors to display common radar information on the Genesis.Photos JP Molnar
FEATURED IN TECHNOLOGY AND COMMUNICATIONS
Every profession has its night at the Oscars, a showpiece event where the latest and greatest come together with industry movers and shakers. For us cops, it s the annual International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) conference, recently held in November 2007 in New Orleans.
It seemed every company that offers products remotely related to law enforcement was there. Guns, computers, badges, uniforms, flashlights, helmets and just about anything else you can think of was represented, including automotive related police products. Although there were many outstanding products for police cars currently in circulation, there were a few new, notable and unusual items at IACP I want to share with you. Some are production-ready, and others are almost there, but together they represent new directions for vehicle-related products.
BRIJO s New Dashboard
One large challenge to outfitting law enforcement vehicles is the tug-of-war between the placement of manufacturer-designed items and aftermarket police gear. There are many efficient aftermarket consoles out there, but there s no getting around the fact that they all eat up space between the seats and cause clutter for the driver. It can also prove difficult to place an MDT safely out the way of airbags while making it accessible and efficient.
BRIJO Vehicle has tackled these issues by literally installing a completely redesigned dashboard into a Ford Crown Victoria. Called the Compact In-Vehicle Information and Communication System (CIVICS), the system is the result of a three-year design project with the Rhode Island School of Design. CIVICS integrates a digital screen that functions as an MDT, a retractable and adjustable keyboard, dual speakers, an integrated file cabinet, a retractable and adjustable table, and integrated controls in the steering wheel. A license-plate recognition camera is also installed, with voice integration for major control functions. The Ford airbag system is retained, and all Crown Victoria fan, radio and air-conditioning controls are rerouted to BRIJO-designed dials and vents.
According to the company, the CIVICS system offers a clutter-free option for officers to prevent objects from injuring them in a crash. It also allows drivers to reach and exit through the passenger door, and eliminates the space considerations between the front seats, which is good for larger officers.
BRIJO s CIVICS system is in beta testing, and the system I sampled at IACP was installed in a Providence, R.I., police vehicle, which is the test bed for the system. The system has a projected cost of $8,000 10,000 per vehicle. Of course, the cost could come down with larger production numbers. Providence Police Chief Dean Esserman says his department is happy with the system and intends to install it in all of its future police vehicles.
I found the CIVICS system made the interior of the Crown Vic more spacious. Dials and controls for the HVAC system were logically placed and seem large enough to manipulate with a gloved hand. The centrally placed MDT screen was easy to read, and the steering-wheel controls had large touch pads.
The materials and fit clearly reflected the fact it was a prototype, but, given enough interest and orders, modern production methods can address those issues. All told, the BRIJO CIVICS system is an innovative approach to truly integrating police functions into the production-car environment.
The IBIS TEK HID
For anyone who has worked in the wee hours of the morning, it seems you can never have too much light to illuminate a traffic stop, crash scene, etc. The lighting world has made significant strides in recent years, with extremely bright and durable LED lighting options replacing their halogen and strobe predecessors. Now, High Intensity Discharge (HID) might soon rule them all.
Whereas halogen bulbs heat a wire filament surrounded by halogen gas and LEDs produce light through a light-emitting diode on a semiconductor board, HID technology replaces the filament with a glass tube full of Xenon gas, mercury and metal halide salts. Two small electrodes are inside the tube. When electricity is applied, an arc forms between the electrodes, creating light. To maintain the proper voltage and current flow, each HID lamp has a ballast system. The end result: a light source brighter than halogen bulbs and closer in color to daylight, while consuming less power.
How much brighter? The average police spotlight uses a 55-watt halogen bulb that produces a fairly bright beam delivering approximately 250,000 candlepower. An HID spotlight using a 35-watt bulb produces more than three times the light output. Another benefit is durability because there s no filament to break.
Until recently, the only place you would find HID on vehicles was in high-end headlight systems from Lexus, BMW, Acura and the like. Now, a company called Ibis Tek has brought HID spotlights to the law enforcement community. The Pennsylvania-based company s product list includes ballistic panels, transparent armor and insanely cool Suburbans that feature remote-controlled, 50-caliber machine gun turrets that pop out of the roof.
Now, the company introduced a more feasible offering in the form of an HID spotlight, which is available with a built-in infrared camera. The spotlight replaces the standard patrol-issue light and features a smaller lens than the usual round spotlight.
Sampling the system at IACP, the HID spotlight was easily the brightest spotlight I ve seen on a patrol car. The beam is very concentrated and can be cleanly controlled to minimize spillover onto unwanted objects, persons, etc. Even in a brightly lit convention center, the HID beam was clearly visible on the objects I illuminated from far away.
If seeing with the spotlight on isn t on your tactical list, the infrared option allows operators to illuminate darkened areas while monitoring a dash-mounted screen. All told, the Ibis Tek HID spotlight is a major advance in patrol-vehicle lighting, and comes with years of engineering culled from designing military and high-security protection systems. According to Ibis Tek, the spotlight is a direct replacement for other spotlights and is priced competitively.
EYEBEAM Warning System
As officers, we should always remain vigilant to the movements and actions of violators we contact in the field. This is especially true during traffic stops where we often must deal with distractions, such as traffic flow, roadside positioning, traffic noise, the surrounding environment, multiple occupants and limited visibility inside the violator vehicle. We hopefully have been trained to complete citations from a position of advantage (outside the car), but even the most vigilant officer can be distracted by radio traffic or retrieving a ticket book. Of course, proper use of contact-and-cover with two officers helps, but many of us don t have that luxury.
Unity Manufacturing, makers of spotlight systems for patrol vehicles, has introduced an innovative movement-detection system called EYEBEAM. It can either be integrated into the company s 6", 245,000-candlepower spotlight system, or retrofitted into existing Unity spotlights. EYEBEAM works as a supplemental warning system by concentrating three invisible laser beams in the same area the spotlight is aimed. Called Trico SideEyes technology, the three laser beams monitor a zone starting approximately three feet in front of the sensor and extending approximately 35 feet. At that distance, the beam spread measures approximately 3.5' wide and is located approximately 18 inches below the spotlight beam center. When activated, EYEBEAM functions as a high-tech motion sensor. If any of the beams is interrupted by movement, an audible alarm sounds, and LED lights flash to alert the officer. You can mount the system on either side of a patrol vehicle, and software allows you to use it whether or not the spotlight is turned on. Mounted on the top of the spotlight assembly, EYEBEAM only adds a few inches of height.
I sampled the system at IACP, and while it isn t a substitute for good officer safety, centering EYEBEAM in the side-view mirror area of a violator vehicle can give officers a few more seconds to react should things go bad.
As law enforcement upfitters always search for better ways to integrate equipment into existing vehicle platforms, the placement of radar systems in the driver s compartment area has also received notable attention. The more we can do to reduce the amount of objects that can clutter the dash or strike an officer in a collision, the better.
To that end, Decatur Electronics, maker of the Genesis line of in-car and handheld radar systems, has introduced a rear-view mirror assembly that also functions as a radar display. The mirror, sized approximately the same as the standard Crown Vic mirror, uses LED readouts in various colors to display common radar information, such as target speed, lock speed, moving or stationary operation, etc. The dimmable mirror is constructed of Cycoloy black 701 plastic and safety glass. Decatur says the display uses a standard serial port to connect to radar systems.
Although I didn t get a chance to use the display in the field, I would guess it s at its best use when running stationary radar to the rear. Officers can monitor approaching traffic in the mirror without having to shift their field of view away to read the display.
As for other radar scenarios, one advantage of having a radar display on the dash just above the steering wheel is that you can read it while running forward-facing, opposite-direction radar. Most of my radar enforcement experience has come from this type of situation, so a field test of the Decatur Radar Mirror Display would help me determine if its location would require me to take my eyes off the violator vehicle to read the display. That aside, it does remove another missile from the dash in a crash, and could prove beneficial in stationary rear radar applications.
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