NASHVILLE, Tenn. — High tech met the long arm of the law in an exhibit of the latest law-enforcement gadgetry that was part of the International Chiefs of Police Assn.'s 93rd convention.
"It's like Christmas morning," said W. Kent Carper, police chief in Charleston, W. Va., as he surveyed the display, which took up more than 100,000 square feet in the Opryland Hotel last month .
"Show me the toys!" said one member as he entered the exhibit, touted by association officials as the largest of its kind ever assembled. It demonstrated the merging of modern technology and conventional police methods.
Fingerprinting experts, computer wizards and radio and electronic equipment operators dazzled observers with sophisticated ways to catch criminals.
"It certainly is a very impressive arena of exhibits, particularly the advanced equipment that is available for law enforcement agencies," said Sir Terence Lewis, who is commissioner of police in Queensland, Australia.
About 8,000 police executives from around the world attended the convention, which also included workshops on dealing with problems such as violence and terrorism.
Hundreds of manufacturers were represented in booths filled with weapons of every description and more common tools and accessories such as sirens and the familiar flashing red-and-blue lights.
The sound of gunfire filled the air as officers tried their hands at booths where videotapes simulated real-life situations--a training aid to help them learn "when to pull the trigger," the sales material read.
Smith & Wesson provided conventiongoers with souvenir calendars showing Miss Canada lying on a bed with the words, "Mace, just in case."
Vans filled with the latest in electronic surveillance equipment showed how cameras disguised as ordinary roof vents can enable police on stakeouts to watch a suspect's every move.
Riot-control weapons, ranging from tear gas projectiles to electronic power shields that can knock a man down with an electrical shock, were among the advanced crowd-control devices on display.
One booth featured a handbag with a special pocket that holds a dainty gun--so a woman can be "prepared for the worst," the exhibitor explained.
Bulletproof vests in a wide array of designs were featured, and company representatives pointed out the life-saving features of these "silent partners."