Through an award from the National Institute of Justice, the Department of the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, SC, has created a selection guide for officer duress systems, so as to assist correctional agencies in identifying, selecting, and deploying appropriate duress alarm systems.
Some recent technological advances in officer duress systems have helped increase the response to officers in trouble in correctional institutions by identifying the location and nature of a security incident. A duress system is typically composed of a closed network of portable and mounted transmitters and receivers that are linked to a command center alarming point. When a staff member senses a threat, he/she activates the system by means of a transmitter that forwards a distress alarm to the central alarm console. These systems currently use ultra-sonic, infrared, and radio frequency waves to link the distributed transmitters and receivers. Several emerging technologies may have future applications in duress systems but are not current components of duress systems. These technologies include global positioning systems, ultra-wideband technology, and biometrics. There are essentially three types of alarm systems: the panic button, which, in the simplest application, are installed in easily accessed locations to transmit a signal to a central alarm console; identification alarms, which are typically portable transmitting devices worn or carried by staff members; and identification/location alarms, which are capable of identifying, locating, and tracking the correctional staff member who triggered an alarm. Factors that should be considered when selecting an officer duress system are cost; scalability/flexibility; size and weight; installation and integration; reliability; alarm activation, positive identification, and location determination; location determination/staff tracking; operational environment; and coverage.