Police officers in the field rely on many tools to protect themselves. Their arsenal contains items like batons, stun guns, and as a last resort, a firearm. In case of an altercation, many officers rely on body armor to stop a bullet, and protect vital organs. But if a suspect uses a stun gun against the officer…the protection is more limited. KJZZ’s Tony Ganzer reports on a Tucson company’s invention, intended to give officers another level of protection.
TG: It’s a little disheartening; the sound of a stun gun zapping tens of thousands of volts of electricity into the air.
Williams: “I’ll show you real quick, so you know it’s not hype..here we go 775,000 volts..on my leg.” ZZZT
TG: Yes…Tucson businessman Greg Williams really did just stun his leg. But Williams had the protection of an innovative piece of fabric called ThorShield, created by his company, G-squared Consulting. Most stun guns work the same way—with two nodes, or metal prongs. One node, releases electricity, while the other waits to accept the returning charge.
Williams: “We basically complete that circuit…connecting point A to point B.”
TG: Usually, the body fills that space, with electricity passing through the muscles to get back to the gun, leaving a victim temporarily incapacitated. ThorShield has tiny copper fibers which return the electricity before it reaches the person.
Schultz: “One of the things that..I hate to use the pun..but that shocked me about energy weapons was there wasn’t anything on the market to protect people.”
TG: The other half of G-squared, Greg Schultz.
Schultz: “Haha..we went through a lot of material. We had a lot of failures. I got to experience many Tasers and stun guns when I was wrong. Haha.”
TG: The guys at G-squared insist their creation will only be sold to military and law enforcement agencies. They signed a deal with a large Florida-based body-armor company Point Blank Solutions, earlier this year.
FOREMAN: “We felt this would be the next step to reducing potential injuries even further.”
TG: Michael Foreman is the Senior VP of Sales for Point Blank Solutions.
FOREMAN: “We focus on the ability to stop bullets and the potential of them causing serious injury. But what was a key factor, is we knew the growing demand and the threat from electroshock weapons to police officers could increase, and this was our response to that need to enhance safety.”
TG: Point Blank is working to integrate ThorShield into its line of body armor. The material is light, and can be slipped into the vests easily. But Foreman says stun gun protection could add as much as 50 dollars to the cost of body armor, a price that may be too high for some officers. David Griffith is the editor of Police magazine, a trade publication for law enforcement personnel.
Griffith: “Your average office spends about 600 dollars on a concealed vest. We’re talking the standard police office vest designed to stop handgun bullets. Whether they’re going to want to spend an extra 50 dollars for electroshock protection I don’t know.”
TG: Griffith says his magazine tested ThorShield and he’s sure it works. A recent poll by his magazine asked officers what they would most like out of their body armor, beyond better protection from bullets. More than 80 percent of officers wanted more stab protection. And 40 percent wanted electro-shock weapon protection like the kind ThorShield provides. The reason officers want stun gun protection rests in possibilities.
Griffith: “The biggest concern for an officer going into any situation is that they are carrying a handgun. And there is always a deadly weapon in that situation and it is strapped to them. The concern with a Taser is not that the Taser itself is a deadly weapon, it’s not by any means, but the concern is when you’re shot with a Taser you’re incapacitated for 5 seconds and that’s plenty of time for someone to take their handgun away from them.”
TG: ThorShield is one of, if not the only material of its kind in body armor. But the National Institute of Justice, the government agency that tests the effectiveness of bullet-proof vests, has no listed standards for electro protection. The creators of ThorShield are confident in their material though. They say police are evolving toward using more non-lethal weapons, and ThorShield can protect officers just in case something goes wrong.
For KJZZ I’m Tony Ganzer.