The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department will soon test and evaluate several pre-production prototypes of a "stunning" new invention that is
reminiscent of Robocop armor. The BodyGuard, an innovative self-defense weapon worn on the non-dominant forearm,
will enable a cop (or prison guard or soldier) to deliver a less-than-lethal electrical shock to any aggressor who attacks.
More important, however, is that the menacing sight and sound of the electrical arc that, when activated, will jump between electrodes near the
wrist should startle or frighten the aggressor, and hopefully dissuade him from approaching. As the BodyGuard's capability to record video and audio
evidence that can be GPS- and time/date-stamped becomes known, the would-be attacker may have another reason to hesitate to commit assault, as the
criminal act would likely be captured by the cameras built into the BodyGuard and used to make the case against him in court. Not only will the camera
be able to record an encounter, but it will also be able to stream live video back to the station or emergency call center. Other police officers who
respond to assist may be able to see and hear much of what transpires on their laptop in their vehicle before they arrive at the scene. They will know,
for example, who to arrest.
Inventor David Brown, an avid hiker, was inspired to create the BodyGuard when a cougar attacked three mountain bikers – killing one of them – on
one of his favorite trails near his home in Southern California. This tragedy occurred about seven years ago; immediately afterward, Mr. Brown set
about developing his invention, taking time to refine it. He soon realized that beyond personal protection from animals, the BodyGuard could enhance
the personal safety of police officers, correctional officers, and military personnel, while making the job of subduing and apprehending an aggressor
Using the natural defensive motion or posture of fending off an attacker with the non-dominant arm – Mr. Brown describes it as a "spontaneous
primal action" – the wearer would squeeze his hand to activate a pressure pad switch in the glove. This would trigger a loud arc of electricity between
the electrodes just above the wrist area. And when we say "loud," we mean LOUD. Mr. Brown says it sounds like an M-80 firecracker going off. In
addition to the arc between the electrodes, the "hot bar" centered on the shield would be electrified as well.
As you can imagine, Mr. Brown (who has been inventing since he was a kid) has worked out many scenarios in which the BodyGuard offers numerous
advantages that other weapons don't. For example, as an arm shield worn like a glove, the BodyGuard cannot be dropped or taken away and then used
against the officer. Because it would incorporate a video camera, wireless transmitter, and global positioning, it could alert the police
communications center when activated to summon back up, as well as transmit real-time video intelligence.
The device would have a safety mechanism on the inside of the arm shield in the form of a pin that, like the pin on a grenade, would be removed
before the electrical components could be activated. Mr. Brown designed and positioned this to be easy to release (with the teeth, if need be).
As he was thinking through the design of the BodyGuard, Mr. Brown eventually began to see it as something that would be developed as a modular
system, that is, it could be produced with various components and configurations as would be required in different applications. Some of these options
would be the incorporation of a wireless transmitter, a camera, a global positioning system, and a siren. These configurations (and more) are outlined
in Mr. Brown's
, which was granted in May 2007. Each BodyGuard would feature a rechargeable battery pack, and the shield itself would be made from a strong, durable
material such as ballistic nylon. While the model pictured would be seen by an aggressor, other versions could be made smaller to remain hidden until
And don't be surprised to see toy BodyGuards, because he's thought of that too.
Mr. Brown, who is a cameraman in the movie industry, has some high-profile partners in his venture. Their company, Armstar, is headed by Andrew
Quintero of Aerospace Corporation. Kevin Costner, who seems to recognize a good invention when he sees one, didn't have to look further than his wife's
childhood friend: inventor David Brown is a friend AND works for him as a camera operator. (You may remember we
profiled Mr. Costner's role in developing the Ocean Therapy machines
used in the Gulf cleanup.) Another partner is Sheriff John Bunnell (ret.), host of television's "World's Wildest Police Videos," and who has made guest
appearances on many other law enforcement-themed shows.
Mr. Quintero notes that design plans and negotiations for production are in the final stages, and both he and Mr. Brown are very enthused that the
technology testing team for the L.A. County Sheriff recognizes their invention's potential for managing the non-compliant suspect and providing
evidence for trial. The BodyGuard will also be showcased at the 15th Annual Mock Prison Riot in
Moundsville, West Virginia, in May.