Bob Dylan’s song “The Times They Are A Changin’” is almost ironically appropriate when comparing the, mostly, peaceful social protest of the 1960s and 1970s to what has morphed into the all-out violence of today. The peace, love, and flower power crowds that sang songs and staged sit-ins have been replaced with armed, masked gangs masquerading as political activists. While the threat level has been elevated on the streets and in prisons across America, much of the equipment used by law enforcement and correctional officers during violent upheaval has lagged behind the critical protection needs requiring to keep the brave men and women restoring order safely. That’s why Haven Gear has put today’s technology to work in our next-gen riot suits that deliver the enhanced mobility and reliable protection officers deserve.
Outdated Riot Suits Impede Mobility
Looking back to those 1960s and 1970s protests, police officers often did not have adequate protections. Riot gear generally consisted of a motorcycle-style helmet and bulky body armor. These suits were so impactful for officers wearing them they garnered the nickname, “turtle shell suits.” These suits kept officers essentially frozen in dangerous situations, and worse, prohibited them from getting up when they got knocked down. They were inadequate for officers during practices of civil disobedience. Yet even as they failed to protect frontline officers adequately, not much has changed about their design in the past 40 years.
While this gear was functional, it was certainly was not up to the task. The thinking behind riot suits or handling violent civil unrest had not evolved. Officers often formed human barriers, and confrontations with angry mobs were face to face. Mobility was not a top priority. It is today.
Mobility Needed When Handling Prison Riots
Today’s correctional system has likewise become inherently more dangerous for officers. The increased dangers of contraband and criminal creativity make correctional officers vulnerable to stab and blunt force attacks. However, a factor not many think about is response times to prison riots or inmate upheavals. When a riot breaks out teams are required to suit up and quickly reach sometimes remote areas before hostilities can further escalate. Response times can mean the difference between a dozen inmates embroiled in a fight, convicts taking over a wing of the prison, and injuries to guards or fatalities for both inmates and prison employees.
The infamous Attica prison riot in 1971 resulted in 43 deaths, and 7 inmates died as recently as 2018 at the Lee Correctional Institute’s riot in South Carolina. For correctional officers to avert these tragedies or losing control of a facility, safety from bodily injury and enhanced mobility remain the keys.
Protestors vs. Counter-Protestors Creates Confusion, Chaos
Today’s rapid response and riot teams are tasked with wading into highly volatile situations in which multiple groups come armed, masked, and intent on violence. Even a cursory look at the headline news highlights that anytime one group holds a rally, opponents come to fight it out on our community’s streets.
Peace officers no longer square off face to face against a single angry group. They can quickly be beset on multiple fronts. Some violent groups and individuals even aim to single out and target officers to “get back at the system” or even just to cause as much chaos as humanly possible. It’s imperative that today’s officers can move rapidly not only to protect the public but to stop potentially fatal aggression and not get separated from their team members.
Haven Gear Riot Suits Deliver Enhanced Agility
Riot gear manufacturers from decades ago certainly had the best interest of frontline officers in mind. They created products based on the technology and materials of the day to insulate officers from the risk of injury. But what has become increasingly problematic for the brave men and women responding to these heightened and sometimes confusing situations is that the gear limits their mobility. Frankly put, too many departments and agencies use antiquated riot suits.
The approach Haven Gear took to design their riot suits that deliver enhanced agility was to start with ultra-lightweight materials that don’t overly burden officers during critical moments. The polycarbonate panels and hook and loop elements are profoundly stab-resistant and able to protect against hard impacts from flying objects. Haven Gear’s entire Enforcer MP riot suit weighs a modest 10 pounds. Back in the 1970s, the motorcycle-style helmet and visor weighed more.
Maximize Your Mobility with Haven Gear
All of the Haven Gear riot suit products allow easy bending at all of the joints that provide free mobility even in tight quarters such as prison cells and corridors. Today’s street officers are able to move, pivot, and respond to an emerging crisis when tempers flare between multiple protesting groups. The challenges facing today’s peace officers face are unparalleled. They deserve the enhanced mobility to do their job, complete the shift, and go home to their loved ones safely. The times certainly have changed, and Haven Gear riot suits are a 21st Century solution.