Winnipeg inventor's knife praised

PAUL TURENNE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 5:18 AM ET

A Winnipeg inventor has won a $10,000 award for creating an electrically charged replica knife that helps police, border guards and other law enforcement types learn what it feels like to get slashed.

Police officer Jeff Quail invented the Shocknife in 2005 to add an element of authenticity to law enforcement training, which he found didn't properly prepare officers for the real-life threat presented by knives, screwdrivers and other edged weapons.

Four years later, the Shocknife is used by more than 500 agencies worldwide, including the FBI, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Canadian and American militaries, and many major police agencies across Canada, including Winnipeg's.

On Sept. 18, Quail will be awarded a $10,000 prize at a gala in Vancouver hosted by the Ernest C. Manning Foundation, an organization named in honour of Alberta's longest-serving premier and the father of politician Preston Manning.

Quail is only the third Manitoban to win a Manning award since the foundation's inception in 1980.

BEING SLICED

"I was very surprised. It's very humbling," he said. "We're going to invest (the money) back into the company."

Quail's Shocknife is a 7,500-volt tool that simulates the feel of a real knife.

"It doesn't feel like you're being shocked. It feels like you're being sliced," he said. "On the lowest setting it feels like a paper cut. On its highest setting it feels like you're being cut with a butcher knife."

Quail said feedback for the training device has been great.

Thanks to the help of several key people -- including Red River College instructor Alex McIlraith, who designed the electronics, designer Phil Poetker who shaped the knife's look, business partner Rory Bochinski and employee Ryan Morin -- Quail was able to turn his idea into a company. The business has distributed several thousand Shocknives across the globe, and now runs a side business training instructors to use them.

Despite the success, Quail said he doesn't fancy himself an inventor.

"I guess by definition that's what I'd be, but I really don't. I have a belief that every single person has a new and novel idea," he said. "The difference is some people act on it and some people don't."

paul.turenne@sunmedia.ca


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