Technology from a Florida company could help prevent police ambushes

From 2013 to 2017, 64 officers were killed in ambushes, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Miosotis Familia was a 12-year veteran of the NYPD and a mother of three children.

On July 5, 2017, she was shot and killed execution-style while sitting in an NYPD command vehicle.

Eight months earlier in Iowa, police rookie Justin Martin, 24, was shot and killed by someone who walked up to his patrol car. Sergeant Anthony Beminio was responding to the call after Officer Martin was shot.

Loading ...

The sergeant was sitting in his patrol car when that same gunman ambushed him.

From 2013 to 2017, 64 officers were killed in ambushes, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

They don't all occur while officers are sitting in their vehicles, but it can make them very vulnerable.

A Florida company believes they have a solution.

“It's heartbreaking that law enforcement is out there to protect and now they're becoming a target,” said Albert Espinosa.

Espinosa is like an avenger for law enforcement. His company creates tools to help protect officers, like the new Aegis 360. It’s what they call a high-tech, anti-ambush system.

It has a camera that shows someone approaching.

“Once the officer puts the car in park, the system will activate and will activate the backup camera on the vehicle,” Espinosa said.

It also has sensors showing where someone is coming from.

“Top left, top right, rear right, rear left and then the rear of the vehicle are the different sensors that are going off.”

And, it triggers the emergency lights to alarm the person approaching.

The technology could be a game changer with notifying officers about impending danger before something bad happens. But could it create unintended consequences? Would it give the officer a sense of a threat that was never there?

Over the last few years, shootings of unarmed citizens have sparked controversy and many protests all over the country.

“This is a system designed just to alert the officer. The officer, depending on the area where he or she is at, can determine how they would need to get out of the vehicle if it's an aggressive approach that person is taking,” Espinosa said.

Loading ...

Locally, the Gulfport Police Department has purchased the technology.

“Someone's not going to walk up on that police car without you knowing about it, and that means a lot,” said Robert Vincent, the Gulfport Police Chief.

Reporter Question: "Do you think this could be more of like a thought in their head that that person is a threat, as opposed to someone who's just asking a question?"

Vincent: "No, we take every situation at face value. Just because somebody walks up to a car doesn't mean that person is a threat. People come up and ask directions or to say thank you or give us a box of donuts or something like that. It's just awareness. Awareness is safer and no, I don't think that's going to be an issue."

It will address the issue of someone trying to ambush a police officer while on duty, hoping to prevent more families from burying their loved ones.

Make it easy to keep up-to-date with more stories like this. Download the 10 News app now.

Have a news tip? Email tips@wtsp.com, visit our Facebook page or Twitter feed.