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Flashbangs: Effective Uses of Diversionary Devices

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 57 Issue: 7 Dated: (July 1990) Pages: 18,20-24
S Heal
Date Published
6 pages
Flashbangs are devices that explode with a loud bang and emit a brilliant light, they are being used to create diversions to support high risk entries in police work.
These devices have been used by the U.S. Army for thirty years in training and were used as a tactical diversion in 1976 for the first time by Israeli commandos. There are many varieties available, but they share certain common characteristics. They contain a charge that consists of some form of explosive, they have a fuse, and they have a container to hold the charge and the fuse. There are two types of diversions that can be created by these devices. The first is the deceptive diversion that requires the suspect to form a false conclusion. The second type is a physiological diversion that acts directly on the suspect by affecting one of the five senses. Deceptive diversions have a greater chance of failure, but they have the advantage of providing more time. The physiological diversion is useful because a suspect already has a heightened sense of fear and the ignition of a flashbang can have a devastating effect on the ability to function. The criteria for choosing which device to employ includes the fact that a physiological diversion is of much shorter duration than a deceptive diversion, and a physiological diversion requires that both the suspect and police officer be present during the deployment. The physiological diversion is also faster, can be used more than one time, and may cause a suspect to surrender. These devices must be used with special considerations when children or elderly are present. There is always the possibility of fire, and a great deal of smoke is produced. There is also the danger of flying fragments and the possibility that it will not ignite. Flashbangs can cause loss of hearing so it should be mandatory to wear appropriate hearing protection when training with these devices. The effect of flashbangs can be enhanced by using them in the dark. 5 notes.