Why this product is needed:
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.
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!
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