POLICE face new danger with cell phone guns

Wednesday, August 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A new high-tech threat for police. First, there were knives made to look like pens, a pager that could fire a projectile, and now, a cell phone that's really a gun.

KOTV’s Lori Fullbright explains how it works and how street cops deal with it. When it comes to creating secret, hidden weapons, the rule seems to be, where there's a will, there's a way. Most people would never know this cell phone is actually a gun. Tulsa Police Sgt Wayne Allen, "This is our worst nightmare, real problematic for us."

Knowing there are weapons like this out there, changes everything about how police officers do their jobs, from telling you to empty your hands during a traffic stop to making you turn on your pager or cell phone after going through metal detectors at he airport. Allen: "If this cell phone went through a magnometer, it could probably pass, but it couldn’t perform functions of a cell phone seeing this might make people aware of why we do some of the things we do." If this gun had been created before the arrival of the internet, only a few people might’ve learned about it, but, now, people all over the world have instant access to it, along with other things that make police work more difficult, everything from recipes for making drugs and bombs to lessons on how to convert guns to fully automatic for a mere four dollars.

Police rookies take a class at the academy called officer survivor, but, there's no way to train for every new invention out there, so, they often have to be suspicious of the most mundane things, which often rubs citizens the wrong way. Allen: "From a public relations standpoint, it's tough on us, we don't want o pull our weapon for every cell phone or pager. So, it heightens our awareness about what's out there and the people who may use them." Because of rapidly changing technology, police say by the time they get the word out about this threat, several new ones will surface.

To avoid being viewed as a threat by an officer, keep your hands empty and in plain view and follow all commands. If you have a disagreement with what they're doing, you can request to see a supervisor or file a complaint afterward.