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Criminal Justice Technologies

Fact Sheet

Sandia is among several national R&D institutions researching technologies that may prove useful to the law enforcement community. Many of these technologies were originally developed through the nuclear weapons program.

One relatively new class of law enforcement weapon under study would temporarily disable a person without bloodshed. Called "less-than-lethal weapons," these technologies are designed to temporarily disable an individual, rendering them unable to fight or resist. Such weapons would give law enforcement personnel an alternative to the use of deadly force in certain situations.

Here are some projects currently under way at Sandia:

Smart Gun
The National Institute of Justice is sponsoring a multi-year project at Sandia to develop technologies useable in a "smart gun." A smart or safe gun is a firearm that can only be fired by a person recognized as an authorized user. A gun that wouldn’t fire when taken from a police officer could save lives and millions of dollars in retraining costs and survivor benefits. Sandia researchers will work with law enforcement agencies, firearm manufacturers, and others to determine the appropriate requirements for a smart gun, investigate and prioritize the technologies that meet these requirements, and develop a model incorporating the most promising technology.

Aqueous Foam
The National Institute of Justice is backing exploratory work on an aqueous foam for possible use in prisons. The foam, which looks and feels like kitchen soap suds, allows people to breath and move but prevents them from seeing or hearing. This would allow law enforcement officers to isolate leaders and followers in riot, for example. Aqueous foam is also a good fire retardant.

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin Company, for the United States Department of Energy.
Media Contact
Chris Miller

Last modified: August 6, 1997

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