Deterring Campus Violence with the ROBOCOPP Sound Grenade
The widespread problem of campus sexual assaults and campus violence is one with no single solution and requires a change in the foundational perception of campus violence. In the meantime, a myriad of personal safety devices have been developed in an effort to give the individual some amount of peace of mind. ROBOCOPP is one such device which aims to be usable and practical for anyone.
ROBOCOPP is an unassuming plastic device (a “sound grenade”) that can fit on any keychain. But when the ring is pulled, it emits a 120 decibel siren that deters attackers and alerts any non-deaf person in the vicinity to trouble.
The origin for ROBOCOPP, like many anti-violence devices, was personal. The sister of Sam Mansen, the founder of ROBOCOPP, felt unsafe while walking around the Bay Area while attending UC Berkeley. Originally, Mansen had gone online in search of some kind of personal safety device that was not the usual choice of pepper spray, taser or some other kind of would-be weapon. But other than LifeAlert bracelets, he found no other personal “alarm” that sufficed. That was when he chose to make his own alternative: ROBOCOPP.
Mansen’s reasons for making a personal alarm over some kind of defense gadget was rooted in practicality of the user in the heat of the moment. While it was easy and simple to imagine using pepper spray or an eye-gouging keychain, Mansen argued that most people were unprepared to commit such acts even for their own safety. He also argued that having a “weapon” also armed the attacker, who would most likely be more aggressive and stronger than the victim.
The idea behind the Sound Grenade, however, is to deter an attacker, instead of attacking back. The 120 decibel siren is piercing and nearly-impossible to ignore, which should scare the attacker with increased risk of getting caught.
ROBOCOPP has already seen success, especially on college campuses. Not only is the Sound Grenade popular with college students, but the administrations as well. A few colleges have been working together with ROBOCOPP to distribute Sound Grenades to students or give discounts. Sometimes neither the administration nor ROBOCOPP were the ones to initialize the relationship, and it was the students who advocated their use.
“Students are our biggest allies,” Mansen said. Now the Sound Grenade is on over a hundred campuses nationwide.
Also important for Mansen is the Sound Grenade was neither designed nor sold specifically to females, as some personal safety devices are. The Sound Grenade is supposed to be a device for all people, and Mansen is proud that there is nearly a 50-50 split between male and female users. It was a “clear decision to not be a female-only product,” Mansen said. He believes the split is a sign of the change in culture and perspective regarding men and personal safety devices.
Anyone interested in the ROBOCOPP Sound Grenade can check it out at ROBOCOPP.com.