Title:
Law enforcement vehicular suspect restraint device and associated method of use
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention provides a vehicular suspect restraint device for use in a law enforcement vehicle. The vehicular suspect restraint device includes a first strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material and a second strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material. The vehicular suspect restraint device also includes a buckle assembly attached to a first end portion of the first strap portion and a first end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the buckle assembly is operable for selectively adjusting the length of at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion. The vehicular suspect restraint device further includes a first fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the first strap portion, wherein the first fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a personal suspect restraint device associated with a suspect. Optionally, the vehicular suspect restraint device still further includes a second fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the second fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a point of attachment associated with a law enforcement vehicle.



Inventors:
Miles, Timothy Jay (Huntersville, NC, US)
Application Number:
11/030516
Publication Date:
08/04/2005
Filing Date:
01/06/2005
Assignee:
MILES TIMOTHY J.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/464
International Classes:
A44B99/00; E05B75/00; (IPC1-7): A44B21/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
MENEZES, MARCUS
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DOUGHERTY, CLEMENTS, HOFER, (Charlotte, NC, US)
Claims:
1. A vehicular suspect restraint device for use in a law enforcement vehicle, the vehicular suspect restraint device comprising: a first strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material; a second strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material; a buckle assembly attached to a first end portion of the first strap portion and a first end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the buckle assembly is operable for selectively adjusting the length of at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion; and a first fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the first strap portion, wherein the first fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a personal suspect restraint device associated with a suspect.

2. The vehicular suspect restraint device of claim 1, further comprising a second fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the second fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a point of attachment associated with a law enforcement vehicle.

3. The vehicular suspect restraint device of claim 1, wherein the first strap portion and the second strap portion are integrally formed.

4. A method for restraining a suspect within the interior of a law enforcement vehicle, the method comprising: providing a vehicular suspect restraint device, the vehicular suspect restraint device comprising: a first strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material; a second strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material; a buckle assembly attached to a first end portion of the first strap portion and a first end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the buckle assembly is operable for selectively adjusting the length of at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion; and a first fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the first strap portion, wherein the first fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a personal suspect restraint device associated with a suspect; fastening the first fastening mechanism to the personal suspect restraint device associated with the suspect; fastening the second strap portion to a point of attachment associated with the law enforcement vehicle; and selectively adjusting the length of the at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion to secure the suspect.

5. The method of claim 4, further comprising: providing the vehicular suspect restraint device, the vehicular suspect restraint device comprising: a second fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the second fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a point of attachment associated with a law enforcement vehicle.

6. The method of claim 5, further comprising fastening the second fastening mechanism to the point of attachment associated with the law enforcement vehicle.

7. The method of claim 4, wherein the first strap portion and the second strap portion are integrally formed.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION(S)

The present non-provisional patent application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/534,568, entitled “LAW ENFORCEMENT VEHICULAR SUSPECT RESTRAINT DEVICE AND ASSOCIATED METHOD OF USE,” filed Jan. 6, 2004, which is herein incorporated in full by reference.

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to the field of law enforcement devices. More specifically, the present invention relates to a vehicular suspect restraint device (“VSRD”) and an associated method of use. The VSRD is operable for securing a suspect who has been handcuffed or otherwise restrained in a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of a law enforcement vehicle, especially when the vehicle is stationary.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Typically, law enforcement vehicles, such as police cruisers and the like, are equipped with a metal cage, plastic shield, or the like that physically separates the front seat(s) of the vehicle from the back seat(s) of the vehicle, dividing the interior of the vehicle into a driving compartment and a passenger compartment, respectively. When a suspect is detained, he or she is typically handcuffed or otherwise restrained and placed in the passenger compartment for holding and/or transport. The metal cage, plastic shield, or the like, in combination with back doors that may not readily be unlocked and/or opened by the suspect from the interior of the vehicle, at least while the vehicle is stationary, effectively secure the suspect in the passenger compartment, preventing escape, and help to ensure the safety of the law enforcement officer in the presence of the suspect.

Some law enforcement vehicles, such as highway patrol cars and the like, however, are not equipped with a metal cage, plastic shield, or the like that physically separates the front seat(s) of the vehicle from the back seat(s) of the vehicle. Likewise, some vehicles do not have a back seat or seats that are suitable for holding and/or transporting a suspect. As a result, when a suspect is detained, he or she is typically handcuffed or otherwise restrained and placed in the front passenger seat of the vehicle for holding and/or transport. Because the front doors of the vehicle may readily be unlocked and/or opened by the suspect from the interior of the vehicle, it is possible for an otherwise unrestrained suspect to escape. Additionally, the safety of the law enforcement officer is put at risk by the officer being in such close proximity to the otherwise unrestrained suspect.

Thus, what is needed is a device that is operable for securing a suspect who has been handcuffed or otherwise restrained in a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of a law enforcement vehicle, especially when the vehicle is stationary.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In various embodiments, the present invention provides a vehicular suspect restraint device (“VSRD”) that is operable for securing a suspect who has been handcuffed or otherwise restrained in a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of a law enforcement vehicle, especially when the vehicle is stationary. Advantageously, the VSRD of the present invention is simple and inexpensive to manufacture and relatively easy to use.

In one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a vehicular suspect restraint device for use in a law enforcement vehicle includes a first strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material and a second strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material. The vehicular suspect restraint device also includes a buckle assembly attached to a first end portion of the first strap portion and a first end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the buckle assembly is operable for selectively adjusting the length of at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion. The vehicular suspect restraint device further includes a first fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the first strap portion, wherein the first fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a personal suspect restraint device associated with a suspect. Optionally, the vehicular suspect restraint device still further includes a second fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the second fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a point of attachment associated with a law enforcement vehicle.

In another exemplary embodiment of the present invention, a method for restraining a suspect within the interior of a law enforcement vehicle includes providing a vehicular suspect restraint device. The vehicular suspect restraint device includes a first strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material and a second strap portion comprising a substantially-flexible material. The vehicular suspect restraint device also includes a buckle assembly attached to a first end portion of the first strap portion and a first end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the buckle assembly is operable for selectively adjusting the length of at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion. The vehicular suspect restraint device further includes a first fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the first strap portion, wherein the first fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a personal suspect restraint device associated with a suspect. Optionally, the vehicular suspect restraint device still further includes a second fastening mechanism movably attached to a second end portion of the second strap portion, wherein the second fastening mechanism is operable for selectively engaging and holding a point of attachment associated with a law enforcement vehicle. The method also includes fastening the first fastening mechanism to the personal suspect restraint device associated with the suspect and fastening the second strap portion to the point of attachment associated with the law enforcement vehicle. The method further includes selectively adjusting the length of the at least one of the first strap portion and the second strap portion to secure the suspect.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front plan view of one embodiment of the vehicular suspect restraint device (“VSRD”) of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a back plan view of the VSRD of FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a side plan view of the VSRD of FIGS. 1 and 2.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

In various embodiments, the present invention provides a vehicular suspect restraint device (“VSRD”) that is operable for securing a suspect who has been handcuffed or otherwise restrained in a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of a law enforcement vehicle, especially when the vehicle is stationary. Advantageously, the VSRD of the present invention is simple and inexpensive to manufacture and relatively easy to use.

Referring to FIG. 1, in one exemplary embodiment of the present invention, the VSRD 10 includes a first strap portion 12 and a second strap portion 14 joined by or otherwise attached to a buckle assembly 16 that is operable for selectively adjusting the length of the first strap portion 12 and/or the second strap portion 14, and thus the length of the VSRD 10. Preferably, the first strap portion 12 and the second strap portion 14 are each made of a strong, cut-resistant, substantially-flexible material, such as a nylon fabric material, leather, a plastic material, or the like. Optionally, the first strap portion 12 and the second strap portion 14 are integrally formed. In the embodiment illustrated, the first strap portion 12 comprises a single layer of material, while the second strap portion 14 comprises a double layer of material. It should be noted, however, that any suitable number of layers of material may be used. In the embodiment illustrated, the buckle assembly 16 comprises a metal or plastic push-button buckle assembly that utilizes spring-loaded teeth or the like to selectively engage and securely hold the first strap portion 12 and/or the second strap portion 14 at a given length. When the button 18 of the push-button buckle assembly is depressed, the spring-loaded teeth or the like are disengaged from the first strap portion 12 and/or the second strap portion 14 and a third strap portion 20 or the push-button buckle assembly itself is pulled to adjust the length of the first strap portion 12 and/or the second strap portion 14. The button 18 is then released. It should be noted that, although a push-button buckle assembly has been illustrated and described herein, any suitable buckle assembly 16 or length adjustment mechanism known to those of ordinary skill in the art may be used. As described above, the buckle assembly 16 may be operable for selectively adjusting the length of the first strap portion 12 and/or the second strap portion 14, and thus the length of the VSRD 10. Likewise, the VSRD 10 may include a single strap portion having an adjustable length. Preferably, the overall length of the VSRD 10 is between about 1 ft and about 3 ft.

A first fastening mechanism 22 is movably attached to the free end 24 of the first strap portion 12 of the VSRD 10 and, optionally, a second fastening mechanism 26 is movably attached to the free end 28 of the second strap portion 14 of the VSRD 10. Alternatively, the first fastening mechanism 22 is movably attached to a first end of the single strap portion of the VSRD 10 and the second fastening mechanism 26 is movably attached to a second end of the single strap portion of the VSRD 10. As used herein, the phrase “movably attached” refers to components being pivotably and/or rotatably attached to one another. The first fastening mechanism 22 is operable for fastening the VSRD 10 to a suspect's handcuffs or other restraint device. The second fastening mechanism 26 is operable for fastening the VSRD 10 to a point of attachment in a law enforcement vehicle. For example, the point of attachment may comprise the springs or other structures underneath a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of the vehicle. This point of attachment may be inherent in the construction of the vehicle itself or, alternatively, it may be installed in the vehicle specifically for use in conjunction with the VSRD 10. The use of the VSRD 10 is described in greater detail herein below.

In the embodiment illustrated, the first fastening mechanism 22 comprises a metal or plastic pivoting arm-type fastening mechanism including a stationary arm member 30 and a spring-loaded pivoting arm member 32 that is actuated by pulling a lever 34, thus opening the pivoting arm-type fastening mechanism. When the lever 34 is released, the spring-loaded pivoting arm member 32 automatically closes. The pivoting arm-type fastening mechanism is attached to the free end 24 of the first strap portion 12 (or, alternatively, the first end of the single strap portion) via a loop structure 36 and, optionally, a pivoting structure 38. For example, the free end 24 of the first strap portion 12 (or, alternatively, the first end of the single strap portion) passes through the loop structure 36 and is riveted or stitched to itself. It should be noted that, although a pivoting arm-type fastening mechanism has been illustrated and described herein, any suitable fastening mechanism known to those of ordinary skill in the art and suitable for fastening the VSRD 10 to a suspect's handcuffs or other restraint device may be used.

In the embodiment illustrated, the second fastening mechanism 26 comprises a metal or plastic retractable loop-type fastening mechanism including a stationary loop member 40 and a spring-loaded retractable arm member 42 that is actuated by pulling a trigger 44, thus opening the retractable loop-type fastening mechanism. When the trigger 44 is released, the spring-loaded retractable arm member 42 automatically closes. The retractable loop-type fastening mechanism is attached to the free end 28 of the second strap portion 14 (or, alternatively, the second end of the single strap portion) via a loop structure 46 and, optionally, a pivoting structure 48. For example, the free end 28 of the second strap portion 14 (or, alternatively, the second end of the single strap portion) passes through the loop structure 46 and is riveted or stitched to itself. It should be noted that, although a retractable loop-type fastening mechanism has been illustrated and described herein, any suitable fastening mechanism known to those of ordinary skill in the art and suitable for fastening the VSRD 10 to a point of attachment in a law enforcement vehicle may be used.

In operation, the first fastening mechanism 22 is fastened to a suspect's handcuffs or other restraint device, which is/are typically positioned behind the suspect's back. The suspect is then directed to sit in a seat, such as the front passenger seat, of a law enforcement vehicle. The free end of the VSRD 10, including the second fastening mechanism 26, is then pulled through the seat, such as between the bottom cushion and the back cushion of the seat. The second fastening mechanism 26 is then fastened to a point of attachment in the vehicle. For example, the point of attachment may comprise the springs or other structures underneath the seat of the vehicle. As described above, this point of attachment may be inherent in the construction of the vehicle itself or, alternatively, it may be installed in the vehicle specifically for use in conjunction with the VSRD 10. Finally, the VSRD 10 is tightened to remove any slack, thus securing the suspect in the vehicle. In an alternative method of use, the VSRD 10 may be pulled around the seat, beneath the seat, etc. Likewise, the first fastening mechanism 22 of the VSRD 10 may be fastened to a restraint device disposed about the suspect's ankles, as opposed to the suspect's wrists.

In general, the VSRD 10 of the present invention may be used in conjunction with any seat disposed within a law enforcement vehicle. It is especially suited for use in conjunction with the front passenger seat of the vehicle. As described above, the VSRD 10 may be used while the vehicle is stationary or while the vehicle is moving, where permissible.

Although the present invention has been illustrated and described with reference to preferred embodiments and examples thereof, it will be readily apparent to those of ordinary skill in the art that other embodiments and examples may perform similar functions and/or achieve similar results. All such equivalent embodiments and examples are within the spirit and scope of the invention and are intended to be covered by the following claims.





 
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