2020 riots inspire former SPD officer to develop next-level safety barricades

Dec 15, 2023, 3:42 PM | Updated: Dec 18, 2023, 11:29 am

(Photo from Protean Barricades)...

(Photo from Protean Barricades)

(Photo from Protean Barricades)

A former Seattle Police (SPD) officer has developed a new device that could greatly reduce the risks of conflict between police and civilians.  

More than 30 years of police experience helped James Dyment realize current crowd measures are woefully inadequate and oftentimes put officers in harm’s way. That’s why he started Protean Barricades LLC.  

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This portable, expandable barricade system provides greater protection than standard fencing. 

 “[Standard fencing] just sits on the ground. In fact, in a lot of videos, you could see it get picked up and actually thrown through windows, it’s used for property damage, it’s thrown at police,” Protean Barricades founder James Dyment told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “So in true civil unrest, we don’t really have a tool.” 

Police would be able to handle crowd control situations with fewer staff with these barricades in place. This tactic becomes particularly useful when many police forces around the U.S. are facing unprecedented staffing shortages.  

“You have officers shoulder to shoulder all on those fence lines if you could get rid of that,” Dyment said. “That’s really where it creates efficiency, it eliminates the opportunity for violence, right, because there’s no cops there if a barricade was able to stand there and withstand the crowd forces.”

Dyment also said this idea has been met with very little skepticism — even from the activist crowd. The barricades allow for the peaceful exercising of First Amendment rights while cutting down on violence and vandalism. Dyment was on staff for SPD during the 2020 summer when activists took over multiple blocks of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. This helped him see the genuine need for better technology to de-escalate these situations.  

The technology has been coveted by business owners in high-risk areas who want to prevent damage. The barricades are just as effective in protecting property as they are in controlling crowds. Dyment said he is surprised better non-force-related solutions have not been thought of. 

“There’s no doubt in my mind that this will protect not only law enforcement, it will protect everybody involved in this,” Dyment said. “It will protect property.” 

This product has the potential to be another tool to aid law enforcement and help prevent violent conflict between officers and civilians.  

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Policing may look drastically different in the future with this rate of staffing declines. While it may not solve every problem, it is important to bring new ideas to the table in this field. Protean is a Washington-based company headquartered in Cle Elum. 

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2020 riots inspire former SPD officer to develop next-level safety barricades