Law Enforcement Technology

JUN 2019

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38 LAW ENFORCEMENT TECHNOLOGY JUNE/JULY 2019 E Q U IP P IN G T H E O F F I C E R F ifty years ago, the top-of-the- line flashlight was made of aluminum, usually black, had an adjustable beam lamp assem- bly, used two to six C or D cell batteries, and was heavy. Using it as a baton got coincidentally a lot of officers in trouble as times and technologies evolved. Jump forward to the present and the average officer's flashlight is less than eight inches long, is as likely to be constructed of poly- mer as it is aluminum, has a LED lamp assembly and multiple light functions/ levels available. The flashlight 50 years ago cost about $25. Today, $200 could be con- sidered a good deal. If you're going to pay out that kind of money, what are the design features you should be look- ing for? Technological changes Let's accept that all duty flashlights should be reasonably compact and light so that they are easily carried. "Two is one and one is none," is an axiom of operational safety we need to accept. With roughly 80 percent of law enforce- ment shootings happening in low- or no-light situations, having a flashlight with you at all times while on duty is mandatory. Why during a day shift? Because you never know when circum- stance will take you into the dark. You must have a flashlight with you and you must have a backup. The weapon- mounted light on your pistol should not be considered one of the two flash- lights. Unless lethal force is justified, you shouldn't be searching with your weapon-mounted light. In general, a tactical handheld flash- light should measure no more than eight inches at a maximum length‹ longer starts getting uncomfortable on the gun belt. Four to six inches is better and thanks to today's battery technology, that's long enough to have a sufficient power source. Also, thanks to development of battery technology, that power source can be rechargeable without fear of over-charge explosions, over-heating and/or memory develop- ment that ends up making the battery useless. The battery output level isn't as important to know as is the relation- ship between the battery performance between charges and the lamp assem- bly output. Incandescent bulbs are a thing of the past. They break too easily and the light output is too "dirty." Thanks to updated technology, LED assemblies that push 500+ lumens are available and the general consensus now is that there's no such thing as too much light. Now, we're all looking for the balance between light output and battery life. While we'd all love to have a 500-lumen light that lasts for 12 hours of run time, that's just not realistic. What about a 200-lumen light that runs for 12 hours? Realistically speaking, we're never going to need our flashlight on for our full shift, non-stop. How about a 300- to 350-lumen light with a battery that can last four hours of steady use? That same light/power partnership, if the light use is managed properly, should easily last for several shifts. An added benefit of LED lamp assemblies is that the power delivery controls are usually digital circuitry that enables added functionality besides on and off. The circuitry first controls the power flow to the LED assembly to prevent it from overheating and regu- lates the power flow to provide a more reliable even level of light. Beyond that, having that digital circuitry can enable such functions as: • Adjustable light level output, • Strobe or flashing output, • Programmable initial on light output, and • Multiple switching/control options. For about the past two decades, since the original Surefire Institute and the follow-on BLACKHAWK Gladius flashlight demonstrated the potential of a strobing light as a behavior modi- fication tool, strobe lights have been in The Tactical Flashlight Evolution When is the last time you purchased a new flashlight? If you can't remember, it might be time to start shopping around. By Frank Borelli The XT DF flashlight by ASP Inc. offers an intense, 600 lumens of primar y illumination, with a secondar y light level that's user-programmable at 15, 60, or 150 lumens, or strobe. Images cour tesy of ASP Inc.

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