California Jail Prepares to Use Unbearable Heat Weapon

Friday, August 27, 2010
Ready to use the unbearable heat joystick

Next time inmates at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic in Los Angeles County get into a fight, they’re going to feel some real heat. Using technology originally developed for the military, the Sheriff’s Department has installed the 7½-foot tall, Raytheon-produced Assault Intervention Device, which emits an invisible beam that causes an unbearable burning sensation on a person, forcing them to stop whatever they’re doing.

Sheriff’s deputies say the device will allow them to break up brawls faster and reduce injuries among prisoners. They also insist the weapon is non-lethal. “It can’t cook you,” Bob Osborne, commander of the Sheriff’s Department’s Technology Exploration Program, told the media. “I equate it to opening an oven door and feeling that blast of hot air, except instead of being all over me, it's more focused. You begin to feel this warming feeling, and then you go ‘Yow, I need to get out of the way.’”
The machine will be deployed for a six-month testing period. The American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter of concern to Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, noting that the device had been quickly withdrawn from testing in Afghanistan when five U.S. airmen suffered lasting burns.
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky


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