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Where the Flashlight is King

NCJ Number
Law Enforcement Technology Volume: 33 Issue: 5 Dated: May 2006 Pages: 36-37,40,46-48,50,51
Jeannine Heinecke
Date Published
May 2006
8 pages
This article explains the benefits of police flashlights and the variable features that should be considered for police functions.
A flashlight's blinding beam shone in a person's eyes can have a paralyzing, disorienting effect. Still, many law enforcement agencies do not appreciate the potential of the flashlight not only as a visual aid for officers in darkness but also as a behavioral control tool and a less-lethal weapon. Each type of law enforcement duty can require different functions from a flashlight; therefore, choosing a flashlight is a personal decision. The basic features to be considered are the lamp, power source, light output, materials, and specific features. This article provides specifications for these features in a variety of flashlights produced by a number of manufacturers. Types of lamps are HID (high-intensity discharge), incandescent, and LED (light-emitting diode). HID lamps produce the greatest light output, but tend to be larger and require more power to operate. Currently, this is the type of lamp least used in the law enforcement market. Incandescent lamps have a significantly lower maximum output than HIDs but a greater output than LEDs. The advantage of LED lamps is their resistance to damage from impact and vibration. Each type of lamp has its advantages and disadvantages in various types of situations. This article also discusses power output through batteries and the various advantages and costs of battery types. It recommends that officers carry two flashlights that have a minimum output of 65 lumens, are comfortable and convenient to carry on a duty belt, and are made of a durable material. Type of lamp, batteries used, and special features are matters of personal preference. Tables provide information on various manufacturers' flashlights.