Reprint from Law Enforcement Technology Magazine

Loss Prevention Magazine Reprint
August 28, 2023
Law Enforcement Product News Reprint
August 28, 2023

Reprint from Law Enforcement Technology Magazine

Windows and Glass: Protecting the Protectors

Large windows surround the 911 operators in the Montgomery County Dispatch Center. If any one of those windows breaks, there is a danger of flying glass injuring the dispatchers and damaging the equipment.

Even worse, if dispatchers are hurt and equipment is damaged, what happens to the community when 911 calls come in and no one can respond?

That was the dilemma Larry Bryant, Director of 911 in Montgomery County, Tenn. faced when the center relocated after a tornado hit back in 1999.

“The windows in our new location caused a risk for us if we had another bad storm,” says Bryant. “We looked for ways of taking care of this problem.”

The Danger of Unprotected Glass

Whether it’s a 911 center, a police car or inmate transfer busses, everyone in law enforcement knows that unprotected glass poses severe dangers. An explosion or violent weather can catapult razor sharp glass up to 150 miles per hour.

During the recent World Trade Center terrorist attack, numerous deaths and injuries resulted from the shards of glass, which flew up to 1/2 of a mile away from the collapsed structure.

In Oklahoma City, more than 50% of the injuries sustained were the result of flying glass from the blast. Property damage to the interior of buildings was also costly, as shattered and fallen glass left dozens of buildings vulnerable to looters and water damage.

There are also safety issues. Because industrial factories, chemical refineries and food processing plants store and transport materials, workers, as well as emergency personnel who arrive on the scene are in danger of flying glass from accidental explosions. In addition, preventing the glass from breaking and feeding oxygen to a fire decreases the risk of fire damage.

Jordan Frankel, vice president of ShatterGARD Window Protection Films, an expert on glass fragmentation retention, advises law enforcement officials and security directors to safeguard their building and vehicles by protecting the glass windows in addition to their current security measures.

The company’s products are made from a raw polyester compound that transforms ordinary glass into a supper strength invisible barrier. This unique glass retention film minimizes the risk of bodily injury and property damage by holding the dangerous razor sharp shards together within the window frame, preventing the flying glass from becoming deadly weapons.

Jeff Dingle, the chief of security for the Carter Presidential Center says, “Because the architecture of the center contains a great deal of glass, we chose glass retention film to protect the former president and all who work here.”

Bryant also chose ShatterGARD’s glass retention film. “We would have liked bulletproof glass, but it was much too costly,” he says.

The law enforcement community doesn’t need to worry about having glass retention film installed rather than bulletproof glass. In ballistic tests involving a variety of weapons fired at 25 feet, the company’s flagship product, BlastGARD, successfully slowed down the bullet, and in some cases even eliminated glass penetration. “While using BlastGARD does not guarantee that a bullet, Molotov cocktail or small explosive device will not penetrate the glass, it does significantly diminish the overall risk by reducing flying glass,” says Frankel.

The Company

Seven years ago when ShatterGARD was founded, Frankel realized that there would be a tremendous need and a multitude of applications for this incredibly strong, yet simple polyester film. Originally developed as a defense against bomb blasts and explosions, Frankel and his partners developed a number of different variations of the original product. By changing the thickness of the polyester, the type of adhesive used, and in some cases adding color such as tinting, new products were added to the line. With those modifications, ShatterGARD targeted specific industries and new applications including VehicleGARD, BurglarGARD and StormGARD.

Vehicle Protection

Facing growing threats from terrorism, rioting and armed assailants, law enforcement agencies worldwide are looking for cost-effective ways to increase vehicle security. Instead of installing expensive ballistic glass in their vehicles, many local, state and national law enforcement agencies have opted to have VehicleGARD installed.

Applied directly to automotive glass, VehicleGARD works like an invisible coat of armor, making it virtually impenetrable to flying rocks, clubs, axes, ballistic attacks, vandalism and attempted break-ins.

Vandalism and Burglaries

Glass is one of the weakest points in any physical security program and the most secure facilities are generally the ones with the least glass. Glass is often chosen as an entry point because it breaks easily. Even the most sophisticated alarm system sounds only after the burglar has entered a home or business.

According to the FBI’s Unified Crime Report, almost 70 percent of all burglaries involved forced entry through a window or door. Law enforcement agencies credit glass retention film in preventing “smash and grab” crimes against businesses and homes.

“While a criminal may muster enough force to shatter the window, it will require repeated and attention getting blows to break through BurglarGARD,” says Frankel. “Generally, a burglar cannot risk the time needed to break through, and will abandon the attempt.”

Storm Protection

“Vandalism hasn’t been a problem in the Montgomery County Dispatch Center because we are connected with the jail and there is always a law enforcement presence around,” says Bryant.

Although Bryant wasn’t concerned with vandalism, he was worried about Mother Nature.
Natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes can strike anytime, anywhere without warning, catapulting flying glass, debris and water at lightning speeds through the air. StormGARD is intended for a strong wind loads that may create excessive wind load pressures for extended periods of time. In some cases, glass retention film can eliminate the need to board up windows prior to a violent storm.

Threat Assessment

A member of (IACSP) The International Association For Counter-Terrorism & Security Professionals and (SIA) The Security Industry Association, ShatterGARD also offers consulting services for law enforcement agencies, security directors and facility managers on blast protection preparedness. Since the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the company has been inundated with appeals from both the private and public sectors requesting immediate installations and threat assessments.

“When evaluating the risks, we look at the height of the building, the direction of the glass, the type and age of the window frame, how it is secured to the building,” explained Frankel. “Flying glass is a danger not only in internal areas, but also zones such as windows facing a parking lot or a walkway where the public may be at risk.”

Types of Glass

The type of glass also dictates what type of protection is needed. While safety glass or ballistic glass are exceptionally high quality and can also be used against acts of terrorism and explosions, they are very expensive and not practical for most facilities.

Instead, Frankel recommends that if tempered glass is not already installed, BurglarGARD might be used to save money. However, if a facility is concerned with terrorism and budget is not a concern, the company will use BlastGARD in every instance, regardless of the quality of the glass.

NASDAQ originally considered having ballistic glass installed in its Times Square facility but quickly realized it was cost prohibitive. Not only is ballistic glass expensive, but because all existing window frames had to be removed, NASDAQ would have had to shut down all floors. ShatterGARD provided an alternative – an estimate that was one third of the price of ballistic glass with no disruption and no toxic fumes.

Installation

Installation of BlastGARD offers additional benefits as well. The film is optically clear and distortion free, and filters up to 98% of harmful UV radiation, protecting building interiors and sensitive equipment. Tinted versions of the film can reduce glare and heat infiltration by up to 70%. The product is extremely scratch resistant and will not yellow or distort over time. With its special non-toxic adhesives that improve product durability and impact resistance, Certified technicians can quickly and easily install BlastGARD.

Applied side-to-side and top to bottom to the interior portion of a windowpane, installers sometimes use a special anchoring system that was developed by ShatterGARD and commonly known as the flex-seal attachment. A unique silicone is applied around the perimeter of the window frame adhering the film to the window frame providing additional strength and integrity to the overall structure. After installation, there is a short curing process of approximately 30 days for the film to completely adhere to the glass and reach an optimal clarity and strength.

When struck, the film serves as an invisible coat of armor, similar to rubber and BlastGARD absorbs a large portion of the kinetic shock waves. The energy then travels across the film to the window frame, which further disperses the energy. In the unlikely event the glass breaks, the film will help hold the broken shards stuck to the film. In many cases, a ShatterGARD treated window won’t break.

Becoming a ShatterGARD installer means formal instruction with hours of factory training involved for certification. While installation may look deceptively simple, if any of the ShatterGARD products are applied incorrectly, they won’t perform to specification, causing potential safety hazards.

“This is not a window tinting product,” says Frankel. “You can tear tinting products with your hands. This product is so thick and strong that you couldn’t rip it with two pairs of pliers. Cutting it and custom fitting it to the window takes not only custom training and expertise but specialized tools and machinery as well.”

Undetectable

In spite of its strength, the film is virtually undetectable. When Stan Williams, chief of maintenance and security for Omni Hotels, called Frankel after the installation he was unhappy and upset. “Your installers missed several windows,” he said.

Since the film is virtually undetectable to the eye, Williams was unaware that it was already installed and called back Frankel with an apology.

Standards and Warranty

BlastGARD™ meets and exceeds all current GSA standards for window fragmentation retention film. The company is so confident in the product and installation that they offer the only lifetime warranty in the industry. Should any ShatterGARD treated windowpane be broken, the company will reapply the film to the new windows free of material or labor charges.

Law enforcement agencies that choose glass retention film rather than ballistic glass are in good company with the FBI, The United States Military, NASDAQ, America Online, and Wells Fargo Bank all currently using ShatterGARD products.

“From terrorist attacks to vandalism to Mother Nature, we’re ready to meet the mounting concerns of law enforcement community,” promises Frankel.