Technology to prevent police friendly-fire accidents "nonviable"

Published 10 June 2009

Following a recent killing of a plain clothes policeman by fellow officers, the NYPD asked the Pacific Northwestern Laboratory to look into the possibility of developing a technology which would prevent such accidents in the future; PNL says such technology is currently nonviable

We reported the other day that after the recent friendly fire accident that killed an off-duty New York police officer, the New York Police Department investigated technology that could prevent these tragedies in the future.

There is, however, one major complication, the New York Post’s John Doyle and Adam Nichols write:  the lab researching the technology says it is currently nonviable.

Police announced [on Saturday] that Pacific Northwestern Laboratory was in the early stages of developing weapons with radio transmitters that would alert cops to the presence of friendly guns.

The problem is that research is not being conducted — and the lab had planned to break the bad news to the NYPD at a meeting next week. “Even if we had the funding to try to develop this, we wouldn’t,” lab spokesman Geoff Harvey.

There are so many limitations, it’s not a good use of technology dollars.”

Police brass had hoped the guns — which would use radio waves so friendly guns would identify one another — could help avoid a repeat of the tragic death of Officer Omar Edwards, who was shot by fellow cop Andrew Dunton.

Even those hopes were far-fetched, Harvey told the Post. The technology, he said, would have only detected the presence of a friendly weapon within 600 feet and would take two seconds before the radio waves from each gun recognized each other, meaning a split-second decision to fire would render the technology moot.