The shocking future of handcuffs: Police could soon be armed with restraints that electrocute prisoners
It could also be used to administer drugs as well as electric shocks
Device can be activated automatically or controlled by another human
By Damien Gayle
Police could soon be armed with handcuffs that deliver an electric shock to arrested people who refuse to go quietly.
A U.S. firm has applied for a patent for a new kind of restraint that can literally shock detainees into submission if they refuse to cooperate.
The design is not limited to handcuffs, but also could be applied equally to ankle cuffs, straight jackets, restraining belts, neck collars and even facial restraints.
And the company behind it envision not only delivering electric shocks, but also provide for systems that could administer sedative drugs to those held captive.
The idea is likely to shock civil liberties groups and could spark a new debate regarding how far force can be legitimately used to keep detainees quiet.
Patent Bolt, which first broke the story, commented: ‘Whether you’re in law enforcement or in an activist group, it’s an interesting read that will keep your interest.
‘Yes, the cuffs are designed to restrain “the bad guys,” but it sure looks as though there’s potential here for abuse in the form of mild torture.
‘This kind of invention will have to be carefully monitored and legislated to exacting standards so that the “good guys” walk the line on this one.’
U.S. Patent Application 20120298119 describes a ‘system for restraining detainees through devices attached to the detainees and configured to administer electrical shocks when certain predetermined conditions occur.’
The cuffs, developed by Arizona-based firm Scottsdale Inventions, could be controlled internally using various sensors that indicate when the person locked in them starts to misbehave.
Alternatively, whoever is guarding the captive could choose when to administer electric shocks, or a signal could be sent automatically when, for example, the detainee moves beyond a certain range.
According to the patent application, safety mechanisms could be included in the control mechanism of the cuffs to stop the detainee from receiving too much current too quickly.
In one embodiment, it could be equipped with sensors to determine just how much electrical current a detainee can take, so that they are not inadvertently killed by the device.
For example, if the sensors determine that the captive has a health issue like a weak heart, a warning could be issued to the person or system controlling the device.
A further feature of the device envisioned by Scottsdale inventions is a drug delivery system that, according to the patent filing, could administer ‘an irritant, a medication, a sedative, a transdermal medication or transdermal enhancers such as dimethyl sulfoxide, a chemical restraint, a paralytic, a medication prescribed to the detainee, and combinations thereof’.
This could word either by means of a moveable needle or gas injection system, the patent says, and could be in addition or in place of electric shocks.
The patent includes a number of schematic-type drawings of the planned device.
However it also includes one image that stood out as appearing like a photograph of an actual prototype, suggesting that electric handcuffs could be available to a police force near you soon.