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Non-letale Waffen: Militär, Polizei, Kriminelle

10.06.2004 16:48:02
<HTML>Military's Needs Speed Development of New Non-Lethal Weapons (9.6.04)


The war on terrorism and the U.S. military's need for new urban warfare tools have accelerated development of a new generation of non-lethal weapons that experts hope can transform crime-fighting by reducing the number of police shootings and killings.

With such weapons, police could incapacitate criminals with a ray gun that scalds the flesh but causes no permanent harm. Officers could shine flashlights with blinding green beams...

The military's emphasis on peacekeeping and urban warfighting in Iraq and elsewhere offers "compelling case studies for the importance of having non-lethal weapons options," according to a 2003 report by the Naval Studies Board, which researches new technologies for the Navy and Marines.

"Because of the focus now on counterterrorism and homeland defense, interest in non-lethal weapons has certainly picked up dramatically," said retired Army Col. John Alexander, one of the foremost U.S. experts on non-lethal weapons. "Law enforcement becomes a benefactor of whatever is done in the defense arena."

"We are right on the verge of changing law enforcement more dramatically than at any other time since Sir Robert Peel," said Sid Heal, an expert on such weapons, referring to the 19th century British politician who developed the modern police force concept.

Heal, a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department commander who acts as an adviser to many other police forces, said one military project with considerable police potential is the Active Denial System, a Humvee-mounted ray gun that Raytheon Co. is expected to publicly unveil this fall.

Scientists at the Air Force Research Laboratory working with Raytheon developed the $51 million device, which shoots a narrow beam of electromagnetic energy at the speed of light, quickly and painfully heating a target's skin but leaving no burn marks or permanent injury.

"You can't concentrate on trying to get out of the beam, because it hurts so badly," said Rich Garcia, a laboratory spokesman in Albuquerque, N.M., who was among the test subjects. "My hair felt like it was on fire. I was in there for two seconds; nobody's been able to exceed three."

Before such devices can be used outside of war zones, developers will have to show they are safe. Watchdog groups say current less-than-lethal weapons often are far more dangerous than advertised.

The Scottsdale, Ariz., company recently began work on a product it hopes can be used at longer ranges -- the Extended Range Electronic Projectile, a bullet weighing less than two ounces that would deliver an electrical charge on contact.

MDM Group Inc. of Dallas is developing similar projectiles called ShockRounds that it hopes can be effective by next year at up to 300 feet. The rubber bullets are designed to deliver more than six times the charge of an electrified fence.

Experts acknowledge that tight controls will be necessary for such less-than-lethal weapons, given that criminals inevitably will find them useful.

"We know we'll have an effective non-lethal when two things occur: when it provides adequate protection against lethal force, and when the crooks have it," Heal said.

The Justice Department's National Institute of Justice is spending about $4 million this year on research and development for non-lethal weapons for police uses, up from $700,000 in 2001. The Pentagon agency responsible for researching non-lethal weapons is spending $44 million this year.</HTML>
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Non-letale Waffen: Militär, Polizei, Kriminelle

Infoman 3235 10.06.2004 16:48:02

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