Flashlight Use For Police Officers

by Jack I. Mann

One of the many pieces of equipment that police officers under utilize today is their flashlight. Whether you work dayshift, evenings, or mid-shift, most police officers keep some sort of flashlight with them regularly, and with good cause. If something occurs after daylight hours everyone can see the need for its use. During a recent two-week stretch, I found myself performing a couple dozen building searches on midnight shift. However, even for those dayshift officers building searches, and the like, arise that require its use. Although the dayshift officers may not use the flashlight quite as often as some other shifts may, it can still be a valuable commodity with which to operate.

In years past, police officers all carried this heavy metal shafted club that just happen to have a light source at one end. Although the manufacturers of those old flashlights refused to admit their purpose, we all knew the weight and durability were crafted into the flashlight for striking purposes. And given the appropriate target package, there was nothing wrong with police officers using their flashlights in this manner. However, times they are a changin'.

Most law enforcement officers today carry some form of compact light source. Everybody is looking to cut down on the weight of that all coveted “bat belt.” On patrol, it is seldom that I see any of the police officers in our state carrying one of the old caveman club flashlights. The flashlight of choice for law enforcement now are usually about six to eight inches in length and about one to one and one half inches in diameter. Each brand of light comes with its own set of bells and whistles, but they usually fit into this category. Now there are a few of the flashlights that have the same inch to an inch and a half diameter, but have a shaft about one to one and one half feet in length. The point is that none of these flashlights have the weight of their older counterpart; i.e. it's not a heavy hitter. So, we must change our tactics that we have been use to using for the flashlight.

To use one of these newer flashlights, we can actually revert back to a program that has already been produced, reverse grip dagger combat. When utilizing a dagger, its greatest technique is the stab. Most modern day daggers are quite capable of slicing and dicing, and very nicely I might add, but the dagger really earns its paycheck by stabbing. Every noted knifeman has developed some version of reverse grip combat for the blade. However, if we take the essentials of most those programs, they can be of great value to us for the flashlight in a combat setting. Those essentials being; high thrust, mid level thrust, and a low thrust. These three basic techniques, along with the flashlights ability to produce a blinding light, can be used with good acclaim. Let's look at the training of this weapon in subject management model fashion, shall we?

Scenario # 1

The evening shift police officer has arrived on the scene of a domestic violence situation. The household interior is dark. The only light available is from the police officer's flashlight. The wife has been beaten to a bloody pulp and the husband admits to his actions ( stating she deserved what she got ). The officer prepares to take the male into custody when the struggle begins. The male quickly sees that the police officer does not see the situation in the same light in which he had viewed it. At this point, the male subject's anger turns to the police officer. Therefore, we are no longer talking about a subject control situation, but an officer survival situation. The police blocks and evades what strikes he or she is able, but the situation is eroding rapidly. The officer uses their flashlight to strike to the solar plexus. The male subject drops his hands to the struck area, but is still extremely agitated. The officer then strikes downward with the flashlight to the collarbone area of the subject. The subject cries out in pain, but is still intent on the confrontation. The police officer then strikes low to the femoral nerve area of the subject. This pressure point strike is the final technique necessary to convince the subject that he really does need to go to jail at this point. The officer evaluates the situation, scans the area, then proceeds to handcuff the male subject and finish the mountain of paperwork that awaits.

Scenario # 2

The police officer is performing a building check when she is attack from behind. It turns out that this subject had been fired from this business the day before. He is furious about being fired and is determined to get revenge by vandalizing the interior of the building. However, the police officer arrived for the building check, unknowingly, just as the subject was about to make entry to the building. The subject grabs the police officer in a bear hug fashion. The officer already had the flashlight out for checking to premises, so the best weapon to use is the one you have, ehe? The police officer performs a low strike to the rear with the flashlight. The officer isn't sure if the subject was struck in the groin or the thigh, but the subject's grip did loosen. The officer performs a mid level strike to the back of the subject's hands. That does it, the officer is free. As the officer turns to face the subject, she notices the subject advancing for round two. The police officer strikes down onto the collarbone of the subject. The subject goes to the ground in pain. The officer re-evaluates the situation, scans for other subjects that may have accompanied big and ugly, and then proceeds to perform her trained tactical prone handcuffing techniques.

Scenario # 3

Law enforcement officials hold an active misdemeanor warrant for Mr. Joe Blow. This evening shift officer decides this is Joe's night. The officer tactically knocks on the door (standing to the handle side of the door to avoid being easily shot). Joe comes to the door, just knowing it's the police, in a rage. Joe opens the door, steps out onto the porch, and winds up for this killer punch that is suppose to knock the police officer three days past Christmas. The police officer quickly turns the flashlight on and directs the beam into Joe's eyes. Joe is surprised and blinded for an instant. That instant was all the police officer need to perform a low strike to the groin followed by a high strike to the collarbone. Joe goes down groaning in a heap. The police officer evaluates the situation, scans for others, then proceeds to handcuff the prisoner. The police officer escorts Joe Blow downtown where he can now pay his debt to society.

These three scenarios show the striking abilities of the shorter flashlight, but its abilities go far beyond strikes. The joint manipulations and pressure point techniques that can be applied with this shorty flashlight are innumerable. There are wrist locks, ankle drags, jaw restraints, rib compressions, and the list goes on and on. The point is, if officers will examine their own tactics and habits a little closer, that flashlight can be one of the greatest things since Henry Ford put a blue light on top of a car.


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