When training new people in police work, one of the things most new recruits forget again and again is the flashlight. I usually get that confused puppy look when I suggest to a new officer he grab his flashlight on a bright sunny day at 10 o’clock in the morning.

No words are spoken, the look says, “A flashlight in the daytime? I don’t get it!”

I smile and say, “You just never know when you might need a flashlight.”

This is a hard won lesson taught to me the hard way. As a rookie, going into a home on a bright sunny day, I didn’t think I needed a flashlight – until I needed a flashlight.

Every department has a frequent flyer or two they know on a first name basis. In this case, a 30ish man who was mentally ill and continuously refused to take his medication. The problem was he locked himself in his bedroom and his poor mother never knew if he was armed or not. He usually had a large butcher knife with him.

When you are young, you are dumb. There is no getting around it. Every young man in his early twenties is dumb or does dumb things, and I most certainly qualified. On this particular day, he rushed to his room on our arrival. Upon opening his bedroom door, I was met with complete darkness.

This is before the days of weapon mounted lights and Tasers. He was standing in the corner of the room and I reached back to my flashlight ring and felt the emptiness where my light should have been, but it was back in the car where it wasn’t needed.

Have you ever had a situation you hadn’t trained for? This was one. I reached in to turn on the overhead light. It didn’t work. Behind me I heard my back-up officer encouraging me to turn on a light.

We were exposed standing in the fatal funnel known as a doorway. It was my fault.

I backed out and my experienced, veteran back up officer who actually had a flashlight came forward and used his light to brighten up the room.

There the suspect stood in the corner with his trusty knife. The veteran officer delivered curt commands convincing the man to drop the knife and come out.

Thankfully, he complied, and my foolish mistake cost me nothing this time.

I’ve never been without a light again. I went out and bought a rechargeable $150 rechargeable model and it stayed on my belt for the next decade.  Now flashlights are far less expensive and get the job done.

A Couple Considerations

We used to carry 4-D cell lights that were huge and heavy. These days, a smaller 500 Lumens LED light with a belt clip will deliver more power than the old style 4-D cell flashlights.

I believe your security team should have readily accessible, light flashlights they can wear on their belt with an easy on and easy off switch. Whether the team member is armed or not, flashlights can be handy when doing an outside 360 degree inspection in the dark, inspecting less traveled areas during worship times, or on an escort walking a lady to her car.

Of course, a less likely chance of an armed intruder or burglar hiding in a room is always a possibility, I wouldn’t enter a darkened area without a flashlight in my reactionary hand.  At the very least, it can be used as a striking tool with a hammer fist if necessary causing less damage to your hands.

Practice light discipline. In a tactical situation, never enter a room with the beam switched on full time.  Open the door, engage the light to get a quick picture and turn it off.  If you can, switch on the room light if it is practical to do so, but make sure you do it on the move.

A Cool Christmas Present

I hadn’t thought of this until a few days ago, but we were contacted by Jeremy, a CSA member and team leader, who wanted to buy his team members a flashlight for Christmas.  I thought that was rather nice, and I wanted to share the idea with you.

We have two models.  The first is a 500 Lumen zoomable model with a clip and rechargeable battery.  The second is a 1200 Lumen flashlight doesn’t have the clip, but fits nicely in a pocket. Jeremy went with the 500 Lumen model because he liked the clip, and I would have to agree he made a great choice.

I will put a video up soon on proper light considerations in tactical situations.  Have a Merry Christmas my friend, thank you for what you do.

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