Dr. Willard H. (Bill) Wattenburg

Polycarbonate  clear plastic bullet proof clipboard

April 18,  2007
From:  Bill Wattenburg,  KGO Radio

Subject:  The Polycarbonate  clear plastic bullet proof clipboard for protection against  close in  attack by shooters as presented to the California Highway Patrol and discussed on the Ronn Owens show  KGO radio on  4-17-07.

Below are two  pictures of  the  simple bullet proof  transparent  clipboard that I designed at   the request of the former CHP commissioner   Spike Helmick.   He knows what it could mean for police officers as well as civilians.   It was tested at the CHP Academy in about  2002 as I remember.  Attached to this email is the official  2002 report to CHP Commissioner Helmick as a Word file.

CHP  Officers shot at this clipboard  at  10 ft.  with all big handguns.    The 40 S&W is one of the most powerful in use today  --  muzzle energy like a  357 Magnum.  Only a small portion of the bullet penetrated  the 1/4 inch clipboard, as you  can see.   the part that  passed through would not normally be lethal.   The 9mm and 38 were stopped completely.     I thought it would take at least  1/2 inch to  do this.  That was  one pleasant surprise. 

You will note that the  bullets  all dug a crater in the  plastic and then bounced back.   this was the other pleasant surprise.   At close range,   the shooter can be  sprayed by the bullets he shots at the clipboard.   I develop another layered form of plastic clipboard that enhances this "bounce back"  feature to confuse the shooter.   It is much more expensive and is confidential at the present time.    it is not necessary for  most civilian protection. 

Anyone can buy one of these at  Tap Plastics.    Make sure it is  Polycarbonate,  not normal Lucite used in most  so-called bullet proof glass barriers.    The  best thickness is  3/8 inch if you can get it.   The   3/8 will stop that 40S&W.   What  you see here is only  1/4 inch thick.   It does the job.   1/2 inch is nice and super safe,  but heavy.   the 3/8 feels good in the hand and on the lap as a general purpose clipboard.    that is what I carry with me on planes  ( and so do many others).

For  comparison,  the   38 and 40 S&W will penetrate up to  one inch of Lucite  (but it is cheap)!    A  10 by 14 inch piece of polycarbonate might cost   up to   $10  vs  50 cents for   lucite.   but what is your child's life worth  -- or yours??

I carry one of these  with me on the airplane.  It  is a great  writing board on my lap.  It fits nicely in the laptop computer case or in a backpack.   It looks perfectly innocent.   It is a real close  quarters weapon if  used in the right way,  as well as a bullet shield. 

All  police officers should be using one of these  every time they  approach a  driver or suspect at close quarters.   It protects their head and neck that are  not protected by their body armor.   But it takes time for something to be  accepted.     They did not accept  body armor for  over fifteen years.    A    young CHP  Lt.  whom I worked with on the  terrorist truck stopping  experiments in 2001 to 2003 was shot in the face and killed  two years ago when he made a routine traffic stop near Sacramento.   The killer shot him in the face when he approached the car.   The Lt.  would be alive if he had been holding this simple  bullet proof  clipboard  between his face and the driver.    The bullet impact would have slammed the clipboard back in his face,  but he would not have been seriously injured.

As bizarre  as it sounds today,   if  a group of students had these in hand,  they would have a much better chance of  surviving a random shooter at close range,  and they could even charge the shooter with some safety. 

The news  media around the country that covered our many anti-terrorism  experiments at the CHP academy after 9/11 has suddenly  remembered this bullet proof clipboard.  Many  heard me describe it on the Ronn Owens  show on KGO Radio yesterday.    It is a shame that it takes something like the Virginia  massacre to  bring attention to a simple solution for some of the violence today.    at the very least,   our police officers should have these.   A lot of worried parents might want the same. 

By the way, I put this invention in the public domain, as I did with all of my inventions and patents that were developed for anti-terrorism purposes after 9/11. I have no profit interest in it whatsoever. Anyone can use or make these without royalty to anyone else.

Bill Wattenburg

A 10 by 14  inch piece of clear  Polycarbonate plastic,  1/4 inch thick,   used as a bullet stopping clipboard. 

9mm,  38,  and 40 S&W handguns were fired at it at   10 ft. at the CHP Academy,  about  2003.    None of them completely penetrated the clipboard.

The official experimental report and this proposal to the CHP is file at the CHP and at the   UC Lawrence Livermore  National Lab (see copy attached below).   

January 9, 2002
file: Terrorist Bulletproof Clipboard 1-8-02
Memo To: Spike Helmick, Commissioner, California Highway Patrol
George Vinson, Homeland Security Advisor to Governor Gray Davis
Fax 1-916-657-7324 and George.Vinson@gov.ca.gov
From: Bill Wattenburg
Subject: Prototype Bulletproof Transparent Clipboard for Police Officers

I tested a prototype bulletproof clipboard at the CHP Academy yesterday. This is made out of transparent polycarbonate material, inch thick, that I thought would have considerable stopping power. The tests were much more impressive than I thought. Your officers fired high-velocity rounds into it as it rested on a sand pile. This prototype clipboard with three embedded bullets is being delivered to you by your officers today. The bullets that were completely stopped by this clipboard were fired at ten feet from 9mm, 38 cal. and 40S&W pistols with full loads. You can see the bullets stopped and embedded in the clipboard. This material is a good deal more expensive than the usual materials that are being used for bulletproof shielding in buildings and around sensitive offices, but the $30 cost for a small piece is trivial compared to the cost of a bullet in a police officer’s head.

I believe that this clipboard might be useful to a police officer who has to confront a suspect at close range when the officer cannot protect his head and neck area from close range fire by a gunman. I was thinking in particular about officers making traffic stops when a driver can suddenly shoot at the officer out the side window with no warning.
Simply holding this clipboard out in front while approaching a driver seated in his car will cut off the angle of a shot out the driver’s window that could strike the officer’s head and neck area. The same is true anytime the officer is close to a gunman. The clipboard nicely cuts off the angle of fire to the head and neck area if the officer is looking at the gunman through the clipboard. This clipboard can also be used as an offensive weapon to charge a suspect. And yet, when you walk up to a person holding the clipboard at eye level and looking at him through the transparent material, it does not arouse suspicions that it is a defensive weapon. I had several of your officers test it as they approached others. You should try it to see what I mean.

 I also tested a version that has a second layer of thin brittle material on the shooter’s side so that a bullet striking it will cause fragments of glass to fly back in the shooter’s face. This will disorient or disable the shooter for a few seconds at least. But the clipboard integrity is not harmed and it will continue to stop more bullets. I think your officers at the firing range were a bit surprised when that happened. I know how to make this “fly-back shrapnel” feature much more nasty if it is necessary.

You may show the prototype to anyone you want in the government. It might give them another example that we know how to get things done in California.

I would like the prototype back with the annotation on it for future analysis. I have filed the usual patent application to cover this so that some one else does not run with the idea. As usual, it will be given to any state or government agencies that can use it. If there is any application for this, let’s make sure others understand that this came from the Livermore Lab and the CHP. Copies of improved versions of this clipboard can be made in a few week’s time for any law enforcement agency.

As both of you mentioned, I would think that the federal officials in charge of airplane security should be interested. You mentioned to me that marshals on airplanes do not wear bulletproof vests. This clipboard would be innocuous if a marshal holds it on his lap while writing or reading. It is easily stored. However, it could substantially improve a marshal’s ability to attack or confront a hijacker at close range. It is protection against both guns and knives. Properly held at close range, a marshal can prevent the most dangerous angle of fire at him as he rushes a hijacker with full assurance that handgun bullets will be stopped. It can also be used as an offensive weapon. The material is hard enough such that the sharp corners can be used like a knife to cripple an attacker, or the whole board used like a club.

I built some prototypes that have firm handholds drilled into the sides of the transparent clipboard. I gave one of these to some karate expert friends of mine who teach hand to hand combat. They were very impressed how it can be used as both a defensive and an offensive weapon. When it is held firmly out in front with both hands it blocks most blows the other guy can throw. It can be shoved in his face, the corners can be used to injure him in the belly or face, and it prevents him from moving in to get an arm hold on you. If he grabs at the clipboard, you can shove him off balance or kick the hell out of him. Holding it out front, you can rush the other guy to knock him off balance. I have some other ideas for various shapes that could be useful in hand combat.

The prototype I like best is one that has a small video camera and microphone embedded in a handhold on the side about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It uses a removable image storage card half the size of a business card to record up to 3 minutes of voice and video. This will allow a police officer to record any encounter. When the officer takes his hand out of the handhold, the recorder stops. If the police officer is attacked, the clipboard will have a record of the last 3 minutes of what happened. And you can surely think of other applications

You would think that the Justice Department might be willing to spend a few thousand dollars on this since they are funding hundreds of millions for other law enforcement and homeland security projects.

*Dr Willard H. (Bill) Wattenburg is a senior research scientist at the Research Foundation, California State University, Chico; and a scientific consultant for the University of California Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and many other institutions. He is a former nuclear weapons designer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; a former member of the US Air Force Scientific Advisory Board; and a former UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering.  He is also the host of the very popular radio talk show, “The Open Line to the West Coast,” KGO Radio AM810, ABC Network, San Francisco (six hours per week since 1972, Saturday and Sunday nights 10pm to 1am). This is the most listened to night-time radio talk show in eleven western states in that time slot. He has appeared in several Clint Eastwood movies.

Scientific Work and Background at www.drbill.org Email at: billwattenburg2@yahoo.com

Radio at http://www.kgoam810.com/ComplexPersonalities.asp

He can be contacted at the ABC West Coast Broadcast Center 415-954-8607 or at the U.C. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory at 925-422-5153