Our Product

Why this product is needed:

Police officers protect property, limit civil disorder and enforce the law. To carry out these objectives, they put their life on the line every time they put on their uniform (Wooley, 2012). Although a police officer’s daily routine may involve many tasks, they spend the majority of their time patrolling, most commonly in a police car. Since officers spend a majority of their time in patrol cars it makes them very susceptible to ambush while in one. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2011 seventy-two officers were killed while on duty, fifteen were the result of an ambush and eleven occurred during traffic stops (FBI, 2013).

When our team first began working on this year’s proposal, the students were asked to talk to their friends and relatives about products they wish were available to them or others with the focus to improve the safety, lifestyle, or well-being of others. A team member’s father, Floyd Garcia, who is a police officer, talked about the need for a device that could detect doors opening on a car pulled over for a traffic violation. He pointed out that an officer in their patrol car can become so engrossed in writing the ticket or looking up information on the computer that they may not notice someone approaching them. This creates a potentially life threatening situation for the officer. 

To get another perspective on this problem, we talked to our school resource officer, Joe Byers, who is a retired Albuquerque Police Department officer. He agreed that this situation poses a significant threat to a police officer and went on to explain his own experiences similar to Floyd Garcia. Officer Byers went on to say that having a device that could detect someone approaching the patrol car, such as the proposed Police ALERT (Awareness for Law Enforcement Reinforced with Technology), would not only have the potential to save lives and reduce injuries, but would also decrease the daily anxiety associated with being on patrol in a police cruiser.

Research indicates that this problem is common to most police officers while on patrol. In fact, the Police Law Enforcement Magazine has published articles about vehicle ambushes. In 2009, a Seattle, Washington field training officer, Brenten, was reviewing details of a traffic stop with student officer, Brit Sweeney, when a vehicle rolled up next to the squad car shortly after 10:00 p.m. and fired several shots into the squad car, tragically killing Brenten and wounding Sweeney. In 2010, an Anchorage, Alaska a police officer was parked in a residential area working on an assault report at 2:00 a.m. when a car pulled up beside him, fired multiple rounds, and severely wounded the officer. In 2011, Virginia Tech police officer Deriek Crouse was fatally shot in his parked patrol car at close range while conducting a traffic stop on campus. Earlier this year, Massachusetts Institute of Technology officer Sean Collier was also killed in his cruiser. All of these tragic ambushes are examples of the seriousness this problem poses and demonstrates the need for a better solution such as our proposed the Police ALERT.

Product Description:

Police ALERT would be housed in a detachable unit with a magnetic base that could be easily moved on and off the top of the police car. The unit can also could be permanently mounted with some additional hardware. The visual sensor (a camera with a conical mirror mounted above it) detects any movement outside of the car in a 360 degree area and sound an alarm. The alarm monitor would be mounted to the dashboard light up to indicated the direction of the approaching person or vehicle. Police ALERT could be used anytime a police officer has pulled over or parked his or her patrol car. 

To be an effective warning system, Police ALERT needs a minimum detection range of 40 feet. The housing with a magnetic base will maximize efficiency and ease of use, so that it could be put on the top of the police car quickly and also taken off the vehicle when not in use. Since Police ALERT uses a camera to detect motion, we need to have an infrared filter, either through hardware or software, so it can operate during nighttime or daytime conditions. Finally, to minimize the size of the device it would either have to use very little energy or be able to generate its own. To attain this last objective we are going to incorporate photo voltaic cells into our design. 

We have been working with local police officers to create a product that will be the most effective and efficient for the officers themselves. If you are an officer or have any experience in the field and have a comment or concern please let us know below. We are always open to suggestions!

Works Cited

"Albany County Sheriff Info." Albany County Sheriff. Albany County Sheriff Department, n.d. Web. 17 Aug.
          2013.  <http://www.albanycounty.com/Government/Departments/CountySheriff.aspx>. 

"Anchorage Police Officer Shot While Sitting in Patrol Car." KING5.com. King5 News, 9 Jan. 2010. Web.          16 Aug. 2013. <http://www.king5.com/news/local/Police-say-Anchorage-officer-

"FBI Releases 2011 Statistics on Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted." FBI. FBI, 16 Nov.                   2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2013. <http://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2011-

Johnson, Kevin. "USA TODAY." USATODAY.COM. N.p., 25 Aug. 2011. Web. 17 Aug. 2013.                       <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2011-08-25/19-of-50-slain-police-killed-

Lovette, Ed. "Surviving Vehicle Ambushes." Policemag.com. The Police Law Enforcement Magazine, 18 
          Oct. 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2013                                                      

"New Ford System Helps Warn Police of Approaches." Fox News. FOX News Network, 22 July 2013. 
          Web. 17 Aug. 2013. <http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2013/07/22/new-ford-system-helps-warn-               police-approaches/>. 

"No One Is Safe until Officer's Killer Is Caught, Seattle Police Say." CNN. Cable News Network, 04 Nov.           2009. Web. 16 Aug. 2013.       

Wooley, Emma. "What Do Police Officers Do? | Career Bear." Career Bear. N.p., 5 July 2012. Web. 17 
          Aug. 2013. <http://careerbear.com/police-officer/article/what-do-police-officers-do>.

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