Blame it on the horrific state of the global economy or post-flashmob social networking, but it seems like lately there have been riots going off left and right. Whether it’s Vancouver, London, Pakistan, Nigeria, or simply fucking everywhere, people are hitting the streets to protest, burn and loot.
Yet while Parisian fashion magazines will surely be talking about the debonair, rebellious activist look any minute now, the police tasked with quashing the mayhem just don’t get enough credit. Let’s be honest: those dudes look seriously cool. Whether it’s because they all look like spawn of Batman, that they can stand around in hailstorms of concrete and Molotov cocktails without giving a damn, or because they cruise around in futuristic trucks covered with devices made for ruining people’s day, riot police have got a pretty authentic badass thing going for them. But I had to ask: what is all that bitchin’ gear they’ve got, and where can I get some? After a fair bit of digging around on personal protection websites, I think I’ve found just about everything one would need. So here it is, your riot-preparedness shopping list:
Whether they’re rioting against higher taxes, the shameless ripping off of society by the rich, or the end of McRib production, rioters tend to be angry with authority. And like it or not, as a police officer, you happen to be authority. So you’ve now got a whole bunch of pissed off folks who are pumped up by burning the streets down and want to kick your ass. Even worse, it’s impossible to predict how prepared the masses are, so they could be trying to mess you up with anything from rocks to filed-down toothbrushes to machine guns.
So you need some body armor. Aside from your helmeted head, your torso is the most important part of your body to protect. First you need to get a tactical vest, which is important for a) making you look rad, b) holding all of your awesome cop stuff and c) securing the actual armor plates. And because you have no idea what you’ll be dealing with, a multi-threat armor system like this one from Protech will protect you from spikes, knives and handgun rounds.
The body armor is a legitimate lifesaver, especially if things get up close and personal (which they will). But protesters love to throw all kinds of shit, whether it be rocks, flaming bottles, or actual shit, and you’ll be a lot happier if it wasn’t directly pelting you constantly. Plus, you need something to bang and make noise with to look even more intimidating. You need a big-ass shield.
The Paulson BS-6 weighs only four pounds and sells for less than a hundred bucks, which is truly a hell of a deal when you consider you’re getting a tool that protects your nuts from flying bricks, makes rioter-smashing easy as hell and, because it’s round, is a killer snow sled in the riot-free winter months.
But why go with just a bit of wimpy plastic? That’s not nearly powerful enough. Nova USA makes a electricfied riot shield that can be yours for just 600 bucks. Smash and zap! Even more kick ass, Nova makes a capture shield, which is convex so you can pin some snot-nosed malcontent against a wall and get your sizzle on. It’s supposed to be for prisons, but when it’s used on some entitled kid in a riot, what public defender is ever going to give a shit?
Once the rioters start to get tired of throwing rocks and begin to get intimidated by how much like RoboCop you look with your riot gear on and all the shield-banging, you’ll need something to start bringing justice back to the street. You need a weapon.
Now, using a gun in a riot is a copout. Anybody can kill someone in a crowd with a gun. Plus, there are so damn many it’d take entire magazines just to discuss all of their various killing abilities. Screw guns. The real riot-control connoisseur uses the oldest beat-down weapon of all: the club. Western police these days tend to use different variations on the classic police baton, with collapsible, metal varieties seeming to be in vogue.
But for the riot police with a taste for something a little different, the South African sjambok is right on the money. The sjambok is a baton/whip hybrid that is traditionally made with hippopatomus hides. They’re super long and can be waved around like a son of a gun, snapping people into line. Even better, the little bit of give it does have means you can really let ’er rip without worrying about causing permanent brain damage.
Rioters these days spend most of their time on Facebook and Twitter because they want people to see just how damn cool they look treating the whole world like it’s a Misfits music video directed by Michael Bay. As a police officer, a big part of calming down the masses is breaking their confidence. In this application, tear gas rules. No one looks cool when they’re crying.
Tear gas and the more pedestrian pepper spray are available in your typical handheld canister, which isn’t big enough to handle a spirited crowd, as well as in canisters for grenade launchers, which look cool but provide fodder for the media. What you need is something with a whole lot of firepower that looks no different than your average gym bag.
Thankfully, Sabre (“Making Grown Men Cry Since 1975!”) produces the wonderfully-sneaky " MK-60 ‘crowd management projector.’ This brilliant bastard combines a massive tank of nitrogen-propelled tear gas with an unassuming spray nozzle in an easily-schlepped under-shoulder package. The MK-60 has enough juice in the tank for 30 one-second bursts, which also equates to one thirty-second eye-reddening rampage. And when that runs out, it only takes about 90 seconds to swap in fresh tear gas and nitrogen. Rapid fire!
Like your electric shield, Tasers rely on one principle: electricity fucks people up.
Traditonally, there have been two types of electric deterrents. First, you’ve got your regular stun gun that has a pair of electrodes on the end of a remote control-looking thing. The idea’s simple: you jab the damn thing up against someone, hit a button, and they’re frothing at the mouth. Some even have stabby electrodes to get through clothes. They’re so user friendly even grannies use them. But you have to be right up in someone’s face for it to work. Great as a last resort, but not so fun when you’re dealing with a mob.
To remedy that, some brilliant soul invented the projectile Taser. It’s all in the name: you shoot out a couple of wire-dangling hooks that latch into the offender’s skin. You get to zap someone until they pee their pants while making all kinds of jokes about fishing or whatever.
Unfortunately, you only get one shot and zap at a time. Faced with a bunch of violent whiners, you’d need dozens of hands to shock everyone. That is, until now. Taser now produces the Shockwave Area Denial System. It’s a stackable array of projectile Tasers that you simply stand up and chill behind. It’s made to protect doorways or anywhere that you can’t place a sentry at. But when you’ve got people rushing you in the streets, the Shockwave is effectively a Taser machine gun.
Long-Range Acoustic Devices
Say you don’t feel like shooting rioters, but they’re too far away to beat up or electrocute. You need something that’s really going to wreck their shit from distance, but isn’t going to kill anyone. In the past, you’d be stuck with a water cannon or something of the sort, which are popular but just don’t make for a good image in today’s eco-conscious world.
Instead, you need to use sound. Like really loud, hyperfocused sound. LRAD Corporation makes long-range acoustic devices. In other words, they make equipment that produces sound beams so painful no one can handle them. And because they’re so tightly focused, it’s no bother to anyone not in its path, like yourself. The top of the line LRAD RX punches out a 15-degree beam that maxes out at 153 dB from a meter away. It’s enough to vibrate someone’s brain into pudding, and doubles as a killer sound system for the afterparty.
Riot Control Vehicle
If all else fails, there’s nothing like a bulletproof ride covered in water cannons, tear gas launchers and sound bazookas for breaking up anarchy while still enjoying your coffee. The concept is basic: take a very sturdy truck, cover it in armor, and attach as many crowd-busting devices as possible on it. China seems to be the worldwide leader in riot vehicle manufacturing, but just about every country that builds trucks also builds these things.
If we’re going American, the aforementioned armor specialists, Protech also produce structural armor systems, including their boxy Manta. The Manta carries a 2,000 gallon water tank to keep the waterworks flowing, and has armor strong enough to stop anything up to a 7.62mm NATO rifle round. Even cooler, it has a built in chemical/dye proportioning system, which means you can add rioter-staining ink or tear gas compounds on the quick to the water without worrying if you got the mix right. In addition to numerous gun ports and ample storage compartments, the truck even has its own washing system. It cleans itself!
Lead photo via Flickr