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Mock Prison Riot product round-up

By Luke Whyte,
C1 editor

The number of exhibitors at the 2009 Mock Prison Riot was double that of the year before.

One of the principal reasons for this growth is MPR’s unique ability to give vendors the opportunity place their latest innovations in the hands of COs engaging in lifelike training scenarios, according to event organizers.

“The idea is to introduce new law enforcement technologies to the practitioner and to let them train with these new technologies from within the penitentiary walls,” said Cindy Barone, project manager at this year’s MPR.

There were more than 1,700 people pre-registered for this year’s event.

“We are expanding,” Barone said, “but we are still always going to the Mock Prison Riot that everyone knows and loves.”

TASER International

The TASER Shockwave

TASER announced the release of the Shockwave Modular System, intended for area denial and perimeter security in a correctional facility, at this years MPR.

“Essentially, it is an extension of a regular X-26 (handheld) device – copied six times across,” said Paul Hughes, director of Corrections, Parole and Probation for TASER International. “It creates a three dimensional pie shaped wedge of space that if someone steps into it, they are denied access.

Hughes demonstrated the Shockwave for Corrections1. The sound of eighteen X-26’s firing simultaneously cracked into the air. It was quite an amazing – not to mention intimidating – sight.

Several TASER Shockwave units can be stacked together in multiple ways changing the shape of the charge’s pattern. They can be extended horizontally to increase area coverage, vertically to allow multiple salvo engagements, or daisy chained to maximize area coverage and cartridge pattern density.

“Correctional facilities can set up a barrier around their perimeter where, with this arrangement, you can give a warning before someone even gets close to the fence,” Hughes said.

TASER was also showcasing its X12 special 12-gauge shotgun platform built specifically for less-lethal technologies.

The X12 has the design of a sleek, lightweight shotgun. Its allure lies in a small groove that is built into the stock around its firing pin. Only specialty less-lethal rounds will fit into this groove. Thus, if an officer accidently loads a live round into the X12, the pin won’t reach the shell and the powder won’t spark.

“In the past, what could happen during a high stress incident or rapidly developing situation is that an officer could accidently load a lethal round into the weapon,” Hughes said. “So we had exceptional officers put in extraordinary situations, having their careers challenged by a momentary mistake.”

The X12 eliminates this risk. Further, the X12 fires a unique charged round that is fin-stabilized enabling extremely accurate shot grouping.

RMB Industries Inc.

RMB was showcasing The Apprehender at this year’s Mock Prison Riot.

Still relatively new to the correctional scene, The Apprehender has been on the market for about a year and a half.

The Apprehender

Essentially, it is a restraint device shaped like a lowercase ‘h’. The handle is a long baton with the hook of the ‘h’ located at the end and sized to fit around an inmate’s wrist. When the inmate’s wrist is placed within the hook, the CO can deploy a trigger activated restraint device that immobilizes the inmate’s arm and gives the CO a tremendous amount of leverage.

The Apprehender comes in various sizes and was being tested by many officers in a variety of scenarios at the Mock Prison Riot.

Michael Leardi, of the Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, used The Apprehender to immobilize inmates during a cell-block disturbance scenario.

Leardi explained: “There was one role-playing inmate whose been doing this for a long time who, as we were pulling him up, was like ‘Oh my God, I’ve never felt anything like that’.”

The Apprehender, he said, “really did the trick for us.”

ITT Corporation

ITT’s Intelligence and Information Warfare Division was showcasing an intriguing new product called Cell Hound at the 2009 Mock Prison Riot.

At a time when cell phone contraband seems to be spiraling out of control in correctional facilities across the nation, there is much talk of new legislation to jam signals around facilities. The Cell Hound proposes an alternative solution.

Cell Hound

The Cell Hound system utilizes an array of sensors to listen for cell phone activity within a facility. When a call is detected, the location of the call is transmitted to the central server, processed in real time by the software and then displayed on a computer monitor. Officers are able to track cell phones within their facility and not only remove them, but gather intelligence about who is hiding the phone and who they are sharing it with.

“It works like a giant compass,” says ITT’s Terry Bittner. “When a call goes out, it points at the area it’s coming from.

“When you go to retrieve the phone, generally, you’ll find other contraband, too.”

Purchasing decisions

One of the topics on everyone’s lips at the MPR product showcase was the issue of budget reductions. Certainly, with the current recession times are tough at correctional facilities. Deciding if a short term investment on a new piece of technology will save time and money in the long run can be tough.

Be sure to check out Robert Hood’s article in CorrectionsOne’s MPR special report for tips on making purchase decisions during times of tight budgets.

If you or your department is considering purchasing any new TASER product, check out the cost-benefit analysis system on their website. You can plug in the figures of your budget limitations and estimate how quickly you’ll recover the losses without ever putting any money down.

The team of editors and writers is committed to tracking down and reporting on the most important issues and interviews in the correctional field.