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CLEARFIELD, Utah (AP) -- A recently retired Clearfield police officer has designed a handcuff-calibration device intended to give police a defense when prisoners sue, saying their cuffs were too tight.
John Voorhees' invention, Cuff Calipers, makes it easy for police departments to document the size of the handcuffs when they are attached.
Using a laser, the 21 locking positions on a pair of handcuffs are marked along the nickel surface. The markings indicate the diameter of the restraint device.
Police agencies can have the size markings engraved on their existing handcuffs for about $15 a pair or buy new handcuffs with the markings already on them for $32 a pair. Voorhees recently signed an agreement with Peerless Handcuff Co. to buy the patent for the design.
Clearfield police officers had their existing handcuffs engraved and have been using them for about four months.
"It's the same handcuff, just the modification," said Assistant Police Chief Greg Krusi, "and it wasn't terribly expensive."
Voorhees also introduced the new design about four months ago to Syracuse and Clinton police, and those agencies have been using the new handcuffs ever since.
"We hope to avoid any problems," said Clinton Police Chief Bill Chilson. That's what it's for -- liability. In the long run, it will be a great benefit."
Voorhees said he will be receiving 5,000 new handcuffs within the next week to distribute to police agencies in North Ogden, Pleasant View, Harrisville, Riverdale and Centerville.
"I think it will help us avoid any unjustified claims and will help the officers to pay close attention to how they are applying the handcuffs," said Centerville Police Lt. Paul Child.
Voorhees said he came up with the idea after hearing about a lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department in which a man claimed a police officer handcuffed him too tightly and injured his wrists. The man was awarded millions of dollars, Voorhees said.
Voorhees did some research and found 210 other handcuff-related lawsuits that were filed against police agencies throughout the nation.
"I arrest people all the time," he said. "They always complain about them. Handcuffs are never comfortable."
(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)