Hold It Right There, Or I'll Snare You!

NEW YORK CITY COPS ARE set to borrow a page from Spider-Man comic books. Next month, a couple dozen officers will each carry a fat pistol that can bring down fleeing suspects without harming them. It fires a shell containing a net--make that NET, for nonlethal entanglement technology. "If the New York police like it--and I'm sure they'll have some suggestions for changes--this could be a hot item for police departments," says Arnis Mangolds, NET project manager at Foster-Miller Inc. in Waltham, Mass.

Foster-Miller developed the concept for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. DARPA wanted a weapon to stop enemy vehicles with something, perhaps a supersticky film. "Once we had the basics down," says Mangolds, "imaginations could run wild." Lots of other applications were dreamed up. One was instant deployment of camouflage nets. That triggered the NET idea, which will now get its first test in the field.

An even more potent electrified net is in the works. It snares people and stuns them with jolts of electricity. But stun guns are illegal in many states, so the stun NET will be a military item.

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