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Police Use of Metal Flashlights as Weapons - An Analysis of Relevant Problems

NCJ Number
Journal of Police Science and Administration Volume: 13 Issue: 3 Dated: (September 1985) Pages: 244-250
T C Cox; J S Faughn; W M Nixon
Date Published
7 pages
Because certain designs of police metal flashlights can cause severe injury when used as weapons (occasioning liability suits), police executives should ensure that flashlight designs and police training are such as to reduce the likelihood of such injury.
Police metal flashlights are often used defensively to strike blows to the head to subdue persons resisting arrest. A test was conducted to measure the severity of a head injury inflicted by a metal, five D-cell flashlight weighing 750 grams, including batteries. The test found that if the flashlight is swung so as to strike the skull at an angle, the skull is likely to fracture, and this will almost certainly occur if the corner of the flashlight end hits near the eye socket or the temporal region. Given increased knowledge about the severity of flashlight blows, the police can no longer plead ignorance of their potential for severe injury when confronted with liability suits. If flashlights are approved as defensive weapons, police executives should ensure that those purchased have a rounded rather than square end and that the end is made of rubber. Angles on the flashlight head should be rounded, and the total weight should be significantly less than 750 grams. Departments should also provide appropriate training and policy directives for the proper use of the flashlight as a defensive weapon so as to ensure that severe injury or death will not result. Six references are listed.