By Kloee Ciuperger
One night shift, Officer Vasile Ciuperger was engrossed in writing up a report on his laptop in his police vehicle. Alone in a parking lot, he quickly realized the limitations to his situational awareness. From brightness of the screen and the focus diverted to the report, a civilian suddenly appeared at the front of his vehicle without him noticing the approach. While the man only needed directions, Ciuperger realized the vulnerability officers face while working in their vehicles while on patrol. A few sketches and an evolved prototype later, he brought the patented StopAmbush to the market.
According to POLICE Magazine, “Police vehicles are magnets that attract all sorts of people’s attention, including those who want to find an officer to kill. Any traffic stop, whether involving motorists or pedestrians, will put officers in the limelight and will expose them to possible ambushes or attacks.”
The device has a 360-degree motion sensor that tracks motion within a 25-foot radius. StopAmbush consists of two motion sensors that sit on the roof of the officer’s patrol vehicle. The motion sensor “pods” are about two inches wide and can be installed to the top of any police vehicle, whether it is a classic Crown Vic, an SUV, or a pick-up truck. Inside the vehicle, mounted to the sun visor on the driver side, is a compact display. With six arrows, when a sensor is triggered, the display lights up with an accompanying adjustable sound, signaling to the officer when someone is coming toward them and from what direction they are approaching.
“This device uses red arrows and beeping sounds to grab [the] officer’s attention. You could have six people approaching you from six different directions, and you will have six arrows alerting you,” Ciuperger said.
The display folds up and away, not hindering the officer’s line of sight when not in use. The volume is adjustable and resets every time the device is used to ensure that an officer does not forget to raise the volume again and misses an alert.
Mahoning Township Police Department in Pennsylvania has the units installed in their vehicles, in the department’s SUV and patrol cars.
“The unit has the potential to keep officers from harm’s way. It is such a simple unit and such a great idea to have it available. It is paramount,” said Mahoning Township Officer Matthew Gerst.
The unit emits a high-pitched buzz to alert officers of anyone near a patrol vehicle. Gerst said one of their officers sitting along the highway was alerted by a nearby deer. “It picked up a deer behind the car,” he stated. “It shows that it works and is definitely enough to get your attention,” he commented.
“With things going on today, we can’t be too safe. When you see a person walking to your car, it takes you by surprise,” Gerst said, adding the units “work fantastic.”
StopAmbush is an officer’s second set of eyes. Ciuperger said that using the computer inside an officer’s vehicle reduces the officer’s line of vision, making them more vulnerable.
In July 2017, a New York City police officer was shot and killed in an unprovoked attack while she was sitting in a marked police vehicle early in Bronx, New York. Officer Miosotis Familia was inside the large vehicle known as a mobile command post with her partner on duty at 12:30 a.m. when a gunman fired through a window and shot Familia in the head. Familia, who was a 12-year NYPD veteran, was taken to a hospital in extremely critical condition and later died. Familia’s partner survived the attack.
The city’s police commissioner called the shooting an assassination and in a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Familia was “unjustly targeted and murdered in a cowardly, unprovoked attack. This murder in cold blood is a tragedy, and sadly, it is the latest in a troubling series of attacks on police officers over the past two years.”
This attack was similar to the 2014 killings of two New York police officers who were shot at point-blank range while sitting in a police car in Brooklyn. In 2016 in the suburb of Urbandale, right outside Des Moines, Iowa, at 1 a.m., an Urbandale police officer was fatally shot sitting alone in his patrol vehicle. The officer was 24-year-old Justin Martin. Minutes later, officers found a Des Moines police officer who had also been shot in his squad car at an intersection in the city. The wounded officer was transported to a local hospital where he died. The officer was 39-year-old Sgt. Anthony “Tony” Beminio, who had been with the Des Moines Police Department since 2005.
“In all appearances, it looks just like that, the officers were ambushed,” Sgt. Paul Parizek of the Des Moines Police Department said at a press conference. “It doesn’t look like there was any interaction between these officers and whoever the coward is who shot them while they sat in their cars.”
In response to the Brooklyn officer ambushes, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said, “It’s clear that this was an assassination. These officers were shot execution-style, a particularly despicable act, which goes to the heart of our society and our democracy.”
Working on paperwork inside the patrol car has the average police officer with their back turned to the unknown whether it be day or night. To complicate matters, the officer’s night vision is non-existent because staring at the computer screen severely compromises visual awareness. StopAmbush asks the question, “Who is watching your back?” and offers the lookout officers need in a time where officers are increasingly becoming targets. It allows a police officer to be aware of their situation and react. Those precious few seconds can be the difference between an ambush and an officer’s safety.
“Seeing some of the senseless killings of police officers throughout [the] country lately, I think my product will make a big difference possibly between someone going home at the end of their shift,” said Ciuperger.
This one-of-a-kind tool was invented by a real police officer for police officers. The engineering was tailored to carefully accommodate the tactical needs of an officer. While other sensor products for vehicles exist, none of them offer what StopAmbush does. The sensors’ range and unique design create an umbrella-like protection over the entire vehicle. It is compact, with a focus on simplicity in its design. The product is also easily installed, taking an average of 45 minutes for fleet installers to mount and plug into a car or SUV. In 2020, StopAmbush received a patent for its product. It is adaptable to different types of vehicles and uses passive infrared technology to detect motion and trigger perimeter alerts. It is the only product on the market providing 360-degree coverage. The perimeter alerts trigger a directional visual and audio alert system on demand with the push of a button. StopAmbush was created to protect the protectors.
Kloee Ciuperger is the current Marketing Director at StopAmbush. She can be reached at 561-779-5515. For questions or feedback, she can be reached at 561-779-5515 or email@example.com. To learn more, visit www.stopambush.com.