Valley Police Dept. Using New High-Tech Body Protection

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RIO GRANDE CITY – In situations where most people are running away from danger, police officers and law enforcement are usually running towards it.

When an officer is attacked or seriously injured on the job, it could mean your safety is threatened.

This week one Rio Grande Valley police department is using a new device to ensure the entire force is notified if an officer is injured.

It’s called the Automatic Injury Detection system, “AID” for short. It’s a set of lightweight, sensor panels used by officers with the Rio Grande City Police Department.

“We spend 12 hours by ourselves,” explained Police Officer Robert Trevino, who’s worked in the department since 1999.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS rode along with Trevino as he patrolled the city streets.

He said even in the most routine traffic stop, you never know what kind of person you’re pulling over.

“We have several instances where we need the assistance and you’re unable to click your mic because you’re in a scuffle or running after somebody,” explained Trevino.

Rio Grande City Police Chief Noe Castillo said he tries to keep his 26-men force as safe as he can.

“We never know what we’re responding to until we get there,” he explained. “Anything can happen in the fraction of a second.”

That’s where the Automatic Injury Detection panels, Bluetooth-powered inserts worn under an officer’s body armor, come in.

“Having this is like having a partner that’s going to alert the station in case I get into real trouble,” said Trevino.

He said if an officer is shot, stabbed or hit with shrapnel – the panels will sense it and automatically send an emergency alert over Bluetooth, radio and cellphone to the rest of the force and dispatch.

They’re designed to detect the location of the wound on the body, as well as where the officer is located, even if they’re moving.

The chief told us he can see where they’re hurt on this cell phone app.

“The response time to get to someone who's been injured or hurt is a lot faster,” said Castillo, “which is significant if an officer is hurt trying to help you get to safety.”

Each of those aid panels is custom fit for the officer who will be wearing it.

“We feel more safe, more confident on our duties,” said Trevino.

The Rio Grande City Police Department didn’t pay a dime for the safety system. It’s now included in their phone plan.

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