Baton (law enforcement)
Overview
 
A truncheon or baton is essentially a club
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 of less than arm's length made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are carried for less lethal self-defense
Self-defense
Self-defense, self-defence or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm. The use of the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many...

 purposes by law-enforcement officers, correctional staff, security-industry employees and (less often) military personnel. Other uses for truncheons and batons include crowd control or the dispersal of belligerent or non-compliant targets.

A truncheon or baton may be used to strike, jab, block, bludgeon and aid in the application of armlocks.
Encyclopedia
A truncheon or baton is essentially a club
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 of less than arm's length made of wood, plastic, or metal. They are carried for less lethal self-defense
Self-defense
Self-defense, self-defence or private defense is a countermeasure that involves defending oneself, one's property or the well-being of another from physical harm. The use of the right of self-defense as a legal justification for the use of force in times of danger is available in many...

 purposes by law-enforcement officers, correctional staff, security-industry employees and (less often) military personnel. Other uses for truncheons and batons include crowd control or the dispersal of belligerent or non-compliant targets.

A truncheon or baton may be used to strike, jab, block, bludgeon and aid in the application of armlocks. Sometimes, they also are employed as weapons by criminals and other law-breakers because of their easy concealment. As a consequence, they are illegal for non-authorized civilian use in many jurisdictions around the world. They have a common role to play, too, in the rescuing of trapped individuals—for instance, people caught in blazing cars or buildings—by smashing windows or even doors.

History

In the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

, police in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 carried truncheons about one-foot long called billy clubs. According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, this name is first recorded in 1848 in American English as slang for a burglars' crowbar
Crowbar
Crowbar may refer to:* Crowbar * Crowbar * Spud bar, a long straight metal bar used lengthwise as a hand tool to deliver blows to a target, or for leverage...

. The meaning "policeman's club" is first recorded 1856. The truncheon acted as the policeman's 'Warrant Card' as the Royal Crest attached to it indicated the policeman's authority. This was always removed when the equipment left official service (often with the person who used it).

The Victorian original has since developed into the several varieties available today. The typical truncheon is a straightstick made from wood or a synthetic material, approximately 1.25 inches (31.8 mm) in diameter and 18–36 in (45.7–91.4 ) long, with a fluted handle to aid in gripping. Truncheons are often ornamented with their organizations' coats of arms
Heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

. Longer truncheons are called "riot batons" because of their use in riot control
Riot control
Riot control refers to the measures used by police, military, or other security forces to control, disperse, and arrest civilians who are involved in a riot, demonstration, or protest. Law enforcement officers or soldiers have long used non-lethal weapons such as batons and whips to disperse crowds...

.

Truncheons probably developed as a marriage between the club
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 or military mace and the staff of office
Staff of office
A staff of office is a staff, the carrying of which often denotes an official's position, a social rank or a degree of social prestige.Apart from the ecclesiastical and ceremonial usages mentioned below, there are less formal usages. A gold- or silver-topped cane can express social standing...

/sceptre
Sceptre
A sceptre is a symbolic ornamental rod or wand borne in the hand by a ruling monarch as an item of royal or imperial insignia.-Antiquity:...

.

Straight batons of rubber have a softer impact. Some of the kinetic energy bends and compresses the rubber and bounces off when the object is struck. The Russian police standard-issue baton is rubber, except in places such as Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

, cold enough that the rubber can become brittle
Brittle
A material is brittle if, when subjected to stress, it breaks without significant deformation . Brittle materials absorb relatively little energy prior to fracture, even those of high strength. Breaking is often accompanied by a snapping sound. Brittle materials include most ceramics and glasses ...

 and break if struck.

The traffic baton is red to make it more visible as a signaling aid in directing traffic
Traffic
Traffic on roads may consist of pedestrians, ridden or herded animals, vehicles, streetcars and other conveyances, either singly or together, while using the public way for purposes of travel...

. In Russia traffic batons are striped in black and white for the same reason.

Until the mid 1990s, British police officers carried traditional wooden truncheons of a sort that had changed little from Victorian times. After the early 1990s, forces replaced truncheons with side-handle and collapsible batons for all but ceremonial duties.

Theory and usage

Under most American law-enforcement agencies' and departments' use-of-force policies, a baton may be used when a firearm is inappropriate or unjustified, but greater force is needed than can be provided by bare hands.

A police officer not equipped with a baton may be forced to choose between two extremes in responding to criminal assault: bare hands or firearms. Thus, the baton fills an intermediate role in the weapons available to peace officers, and gives flexibility to defend against physical attack proportionately.

If a police officer is fired upon by a suspect
Suspect
In the parlance of criminal justice, a suspect is a known person suspected of committing a crime.Police and reporters often incorrectly use the word suspect when referring to the...

 with a firearm
Firearm
A firearm is a weapon that launches one, or many, projectile at high velocity through confined burning of a propellant. This subsonic burning process is technically known as deflagration, as opposed to supersonic combustion known as a detonation. In older firearms, the propellant was typically...

 from a distance of several meters, the officer's best option may be to seek cover and to return fire with their side arm
Side arm
A side arm is a weapon, usually a pistol but can be a dagger, as used in pre-modern times, which is worn on the body in a holster to permit immediate access and use. A side arm is typically required equipment for military personnel and sometimes carried by law enforcement personnel...

. If an unarmed suspect passively resists arrest and is not actively assault
Assault
In law, assault is a crime causing a victim to fear violence. The term is often confused with battery, which involves physical contact. The specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence, or in the more...

ing the arresting officer, striking the suspect with a baton in order to gain compliance may be considered excessive force, depending on the use-of-force policy governing the officer.

Between these extremes (in terms of the threat posed to the officer), a baton would prove useful. If an unarmed suspect tried to attack an officer at arm's length, and the officer were smaller and weaker and couldn't defend against the suspect without using weapons, it would be fair and prudent for the officer to subdue the suspect with baton strikes to non-critical areas of the body. Baton strikes may be justified and ideal in an attack by several unarmed suspects.

Target areas

Before the 1970s, it was common for law enforcement in the United Kingdom to "brain" suspects (strike their heads) in order to stun them or knock them unconscious. However, this was unreliable and potentially fatal. Civil lawsuits and claims of police brutality resulted in better training for officers. In modern police training, it is not permitted to hit the skull
Human skull
The human skull is a bony structure, skeleton, that is in the human head and which supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain.In humans, the adult skull is normally made up of 22 bones...

, sternum, spine
Vertebral column
In human anatomy, the vertebral column is a column usually consisting of 24 articulating vertebrae, and 9 fused vertebrae in the sacrum and the coccyx. It is situated in the dorsal aspect of the torso, separated by intervertebral discs...

, or groin
Groin
In human anatomy, the groin areas are the two creases at the junction of the torso with the legs, on either side of the pubic area. This is also known as the medial compartment of the thigh. A pulled groin muscle usually refers to a painful injury sustained by straining the hip adductor muscles...

 unless such an attack is unavoidable. The primary targets now are nerves, such as the common peroneal nerve
Peroneal strike
A peroneal strike is a temporarily disabling blow to the side of the leg, just above the knee. The attacker aims at the common peroneal nerve, roughly a hand span above the knee, towards the back of the leg...

, and large muscle
Muscle
Muscle is a contractile tissue of animals and is derived from the mesodermal layer of embryonic germ cells. Muscle cells contain contractile filaments that move past each other and change the size of the cell. They are classified as skeletal, cardiac, or smooth muscles. Their function is to...

s, such as the quadriceps or biceps
Biceps
Biceps may refer to:*Biceps brachii muscle, a muscle located on the inside of the upper arm*Biceps femoris muscle, one of the hamstring muscles of the back of each thigh*Biceps , a point in a metrical pattern...

.

Comparison with other weapons

Hand-held impact weapons have some advantages over newer less lethal weapons. Batons are less expensive than Tasers to buy or to use, and carry none of the risk of cross-contamination of OC aerosol canisters (pepper spray
Pepper spray
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray , OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent that is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears...

) in confined areas. Tasers and OC canisters have limited ammunition, whereas batons use none.

Batons are higher on the use of force continuum
Use of force continuum
A use of force continuum is a standard that provides law enforcement officials & security officers with guidelines as to how much force may be used against a resisting subject in a given situation. In certain ways it is similar to the military rules of engagement...

 than many other less-lethal weapons, as they are more likely to cause lasting or fatal injuries. Like Tasers and OC, batons are referred to as "less-lethal" rather than "non-lethal". These items are not designed to be fatal, but they can be: allergic reaction to pepper spray, blood clots from baton strikes, and heart stoppage after being shocked by a Taser.

Baton designs

Batons in common use by police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 around the world include many different designs, such as fixed-length straight batons, blackjacks, fixed-length side-handle batons, collapsible straight batons, and other more exotic variations. All types have their advantages and disadvantages.

The design and popularity of specific types of baton have evolved over the years and are influenced by a variety of factors. These include inherent compromises in the dual (and competing) goals of control effectiveness and safety (for both officer and subject).

Straightstick

A straight, fixed-length baton (also commonly referred to as a "straightstick") is the oldest and simplest police baton design, known as far back as ancient Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. It consists of little more than a long cylinder with a molded, turned
Lathe
A lathe is a machine tool which rotates the workpiece on its axis to perform various operations such as cutting, sanding, knurling, drilling, or deformation with tools that are applied to the workpiece to create an object which has symmetry about an axis of rotation.Lathes are used in woodturning,...

 or wrapped grip, usually with a slightly thicker or tapering shaft and rounded tip. They are often made of hardwood, but in modern times are available in other materials such as aluminium, acrylic, or dense plastics. They range in size from short clubs less than a foot in length to long 36 inches (91.4 cm) "riot batons" common used in civil disturbances
Riot
A riot is a form of civil disorder characterized often by what is thought of as disorganized groups lashing out in a sudden and intense rash of violence against authority, property or people. While individuals may attempt to lead or control a riot, riots are thought to be typically chaotic and...

 or by officers mounted on horseback.

Straightsticks tend to be heavier and have more weight concentrated in the striking end than other designs. This makes them less maneuverable, but theoretically would deliver more kinetic energy on impact. Most agencies have replaced the straightstick with other batons because of inconvenience to carry, and a desire for their officers to look less threatening to the community they serve. Despite having been replaced by side-handle and expandable batons in many (if not most) law enforcement agencies, it remains in use by many major departments in the US, such as the Baltimore
Baltimore Police Department
The Baltimore Police Department provides police services to the city of Baltimore, Maryland and was officially established by the Maryland Legislature on March 16, 1853...

, Denver
Denver Police Department
The Denver Police Department is the full service police department jointly for the City and County of Denver, Colorado, which provides the full spectrum of police services to the entire county, and may provide contractual security police services to special districts within the county.The current...

, Sacramento
Sacramento Police Department
The Sacramento Police Department is the police department for the city of Sacramento, California. The department was created in 1849. The current Chief of Police is Rick Braziel.-History:...

, Long Beach
Long Beach Police Department (California)
The Long Beach Police Department provides law enforcement for the city of Long Beach, California, USA.-History:In 2004, the department introduced Tasers and distributed them to officers...

, Santa Ana
Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana is the county seat and second most populous city in Orange County, California, and with a population of 324,528 at the 2010 census, Santa Ana is the 57th-most populous city in the United States....

, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Police Department
The Philadelphia Police Department is the police agency responsible for law enforcement and investigations within the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania...

, San Francisco
San Francisco Police Department
The San Francisco Police Department, also known as the SFPD and San Francisco Department Of Police, is the police department of the City and County of San Francisco, California...

, and Riverside
Riverside, California
Riverside is a city in Riverside County, California, United States, and the county seat of the eponymous county. Named for its location beside the Santa Ana River, it is the largest city in the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario metropolitan area of Southern California, 4th largest inland California...

 Police Departments, and are used by NYPD Auxiliary Police
NYPD Auxiliary Police
The New York City Police Department Auxiliary Police is an unpaid, unarmed reserve police force which is a subdivision of the Patrol Services Bureau of the New York City Police Department. Auxiliary Police officers assist the NYPD with uniformed patrols and provide traffic and crowd control at...

 officers, as well as many Military Police
Military police
Military police are police organisations connected with, or part of, the military of a state. The word can have different meanings in different countries, and may refer to:...

 forces around the world.

Sap

A sap is a flat-profiled, leather-covered lead rod, fitted with a spring handle. It is also the name for a weapon of similar design
Slapjack (weapon)
The slapjack is a batting weapon which may be used in self-defense or other forms of hand-to-hand combat. It typically consists of a flat profile outer skin containing a hard weight material that may be swung at any part of an opponent's body in order to inflict injury.The outer sack of a slapjack...

 (also called a slapper, slap jack
Slapjack (weapon)
The slapjack is a batting weapon which may be used in self-defense or other forms of hand-to-hand combat. It typically consists of a flat profile outer skin containing a hard weight material that may be swung at any part of an opponent's body in order to inflict injury.The outer sack of a slapjack...

 or beaver
Beaver
The beaver is a primarily nocturnal, large, semi-aquatic rodent. Castor includes two extant species, North American Beaver and Eurasian Beaver . Beavers are known for building dams, canals, and lodges . They are the second-largest rodent in the world...

tail sap
). A sap has a flat profile as opposed to a cylindrical
Cylinder (geometry)
A cylinder is one of the most basic curvilinear geometric shapes, the surface formed by the points at a fixed distance from a given line segment, the axis of the cylinder. The solid enclosed by this surface and by two planes perpendicular to the axis is also called a cylinder...

 profile of a blackjack, and spreads its impact out over a broader area, making it less likely to break bone. It was primarily used for head strikes, intended to stun an opponent or render him unconscious.

Blackjack

A blackjack (American English), or cosh (British English), is a small, easily concealed club
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

 consisting of a leather
Leather
Leather is a durable and flexible material created via the tanning of putrescible animal rawhide and skin, primarily cattlehide. It can be produced through different manufacturing processes, ranging from cottage industry to heavy industry.-Forms:...

-wrapped lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 weight attached to the end of a leather-wrapped coil spring
Coil spring
A Coil spring, also known as a helical spring, is a mechanical device, which is typically used to store energy and subsequently release it, to absorb shock, or to maintain a force between contacting surfaces...

 or rigid shaft, with a lanyard
Lanyard
A lanyard is a rope or cord exclusively worn around the neck or wrist to carry something. Usually it is used where there is a risk of losing the object or to ensure it is visible at all times. Aboard a ship, it may refer to a piece of rigging used to secure objects...

 or strap on the end opposite the weight. Materials other than lead and leather are sometimes used to construct these weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

s, but the design of a soft covering over a dense weighted core remain.

This weapon works by creating kinetic energy in the dense
Density
The mass density or density of a material is defined as its mass per unit volume. The symbol most often used for density is ρ . In some cases , density is also defined as its weight per unit volume; although, this quantity is more properly called specific weight...

 core, via the spring handle, during the swing. When directed at the head, it works by concussing the brain without cutting the scalp. This is meant to stun or knock out the subject, although head strikes from blackjacks are regularly fatal.

Blackjacks were popular among law enforcement for a time due to their low profile, small size, and their suitability for knocking a suspect unconscious. Currently, however, they are all but prohibited in most municipalities due to liability issues stemming from their potential lethality when used as a compliance device. A blackjack is sometimes wrongly referred to as a sap. "Blackjack" is also American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 slang referring to an improvised weapon composed of a heavy object placed inside a sock. The same improvised weapon is referred to in British English
British English
British English, or English , is the broad term used to distinguish the forms of the English language used in the United Kingdom from forms used elsewhere...

 slang as a "slungshot" or a "cosh."

Side-handle baton

Side-handle batons (sometimes referred to as T-batons or Nightsticks) are batons with a short side handle at a right angle to the shaft, about six inches from one end. The main shaft is typically 61 centimetres (24 in) in length. They are derived from the tonfa
Tonfa
The tonfa , also known as tong fa or tuifa, is an Okinawan weapon. It is a stick with a handle, and is about 15-20 inches long. It was traditionally made from red oak and wielded in pairs...

, an Okinawan kobudō
Okinawan kobudo
Okinawan kobudō is a Japanese term that can be translated as "old martial way of Okinawa"...

 weapon
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

, and are used with a similar technique (although Tonfas are usually used in pairs, whereas side-handle batons are not). The best-known example is the Monadnock PR-24, which has become a genericized trademark
Genericized trademark
A genericized trademark is a trademark or brand name that has become the colloquial or generic description for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, rather than as an indicator of source or affiliation as intended by the trademark's holder...

 within the law enforcement and security communities for this type of product.

It can be held by:
  • One end, and the corner between the shaft and the handle used to catch a long swung blunt or sharp weapon.
  • The side handle, and the long shaft held against the hand and forearm to splint
    Splint
    Splint may refer to:* Splint , a medical device for the immobilization of limbs or spine* Splint , a device for checking computer programs...

     and shield the arm against an expected blow from an attacker.


Side-handle batons are made in both fixed and collapsible models, and may be constructed from a range of materials including wood, polycarbonate, epoxy, and aluminum.

Some side-handle batons are one-piece in design; the side-handle component and primary shaft are permanently fused together during manufacturing. One-piece designs are potentially stronger in design than two-piece designs, and have no risk of having a locking screw loosen from its threads.

Other side-handle batons are two-piece in design (common among cheaper makes); the side-handle component is screwed into primary shaft. The side handle may be removed from the shaft by the end-user, converting the side-handle into a straight baton. Users of two-piece side handle batons would be well-advised to apply a thread-locking compound to the side-handle screw to prevent loosening under use. It would also be prudent to occasionally check the tightness of that screw.

The advantages of a side-handle baton over a straight baton are numerous:
  • There are a far greater number of defensive techniques/maneuvers that may be used with the side-handle baton in contrast with the straight baton.
  • The side-handle component may aid in weapon retention, making it more difficult for a suspect to take the baton away from the officer in a struggle.
  • The side-handle component prevents the baton from rolling far away if inadvertently dropped, unlike a straight baton.
  • Subjectively, some officers may be able to deliver a strike of greater power with the side-handle baton (when used in conjunction with a "power stroke") over a straight baton.
  • Due to its design, a side handle baton is generally used in a more defensive and less offensive manner than a straight baton, and thus it is less likely for an officer to "instinctively" use a side-handle baton as a simple bludgeon and direct indiscriminate strikes against a suspect. Also, the typically defensive stance the side-handle baton is used with is generally believed to present a more community-friendly image than a straight baton.


Side-handle batons have a few disadvantages:
  • More training is required for an officer to fully utilize the potential of a side-handle baton compared to a straight baton.
  • The side-handle slightly increases overall weight and bulk of the baton compared to a straight baton of identical length.
  • When the side-handle baton is used as a simple bludgeon (without gripping the side-handle), it is less effective than a straight baton.


Side-handle batons have been involved in high-profile incidents of alleged police brutality
Police brutality
Police brutality is the intentional use of excessive force, usually physical, but potentially also in the form of verbal attacks and psychological intimidation, by a police officer....

, such as in New Zealand
New Zealand
New Zealand is an island country in the south-western Pacific Ocean comprising two main landmasses and numerous smaller islands. The country is situated some east of Australia across the Tasman Sea, and roughly south of the Pacific island nations of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga...

's 1981 Springbok Tour and the Rodney King
Rodney King
Rodney Glen King is an American best known for his involvement in a police brutality case involving the Los Angeles Police Department on March 3, 1991...

 beating.
In the New Zealand instance new techniques of use were developed for crowd control. These techniques attracted the interest of the police forces of certain South American countries of the time who sent un-official observers to learn these techniques.

Expandable baton

An expandable baton (also referred to variously as a collapsible baton, telescopic [or telescoping] baton, tactical baton, spring cosh, asp
ASP, Inc.
Armament Systems and Procedures, Inc. , is an offensive compliance weapons manufacturer providing equipment to law enforcement and private security companies. ASP is perhaps best known for its telescoping batons.-History:...

, Extendable, or extendo [slang]) is typically composed of a cylindrical outer shaft containing telescoping
Telescoping (mechanics)
Telescoping in mechanics describes the movement of one part sliding out from another, lengthening an object from its rest state. In modern equipment, this is often done by hydraulics....

 inner shafts (typically 2 or 3, depending on the design) that lock into each other when expanded. The shafts are usually made of steel, but lightweight baton models may have their shafts made from other materials such as aluminum alloy.

Expandable batons may have a solid tip at the outer end of the innermost shaft; the purpose of the solid tip is to maximize the power of a strike when the baton is used as an impact weapon.

Expandable batons are made in both straight and side-handle configurations, but are considerably more common in the straight configuration.

The best-known example of the straight expandable baton is the ASP (Armament Systems and Procedures) Baton, which has become a genericized trademark
Genericized trademark
A genericized trademark is a trademark or brand name that has become the colloquial or generic description for, or synonymous with, a general class of product or service, rather than as an indicator of source or affiliation as intended by the trademark's holder...

 within the law enforcement and security communities for this type of product.

Depending on the holster or scabbard design, it may be possible to carry an expandable baton in either collapsed or expanded position, which would be helpful if an officer needed to holster an expanded baton and it was not possible or convenient to collapse it at the time.

An expandable baton is opened by being swung in a forceful manner while collapsed, using inertia to extend and lock the segments by friction. Some mechanical-lock versions can also be opened by simply pulling the segments apart. Depending on the design, expandable batons may be collapsed either by being brought down (inverted) on a hard surface, or by depressing a button lock and manually collapsing the shafts.

The advantages of a collapsible baton over a fixed baton are numerous:
  • The collapsible shaft makes it easier for the officer to carry it and to sit in a car seat wearing it, since when collapsed it is between six and ten inches (15 to 25 cm) long. This is contrasted with non-collapsible batons, which the officer may, as a measure of convenience, often resort to removing from his or her belt when seating themselves in a vehicle.
  • Non-collapsible batons are typically carried in a ring type belt attachment. Fixed batons carried in such holders work themselves out of the holder when the wearing officer sprints. Two answers are to hold the baton down in the ring with a hand, or have the baton in the hand; neither is desirable. The typical collapsible straight baton and its scabbard do not suffer this, and remain secure regardless of the wearing officer's movement.
  • In theory, the mere display of extending the baton may in some instances be psychologically
    Psychology
    Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior. Its immediate goal is to understand individuals and groups by both establishing general principles and researching specific cases. For many, the ultimate goal of psychology is to benefit society...

     intimidating to an aggressive subject (due to both the sight and sound of the action, with a similar intimidation technique as used in pump-action shotguns), and may thus deescalate the situation and preclude the necessity of any physical force being used at all.
  • Many police officers believe that it presents a more community-friendly image to the general public than non-collapsible batons, due to the former's lower profile while collapsed; many citizens may not even know what the collapsible baton is for when it is collapsed and residing in the officer's duty belt; a 29 inches (73.7 cm) wooden straightstick's designed purpose, on the other hand, is clearly more self-evident. In this regard, the collapsible baton may be considered more suitable for community-oriented policing.
  • A collapsible baton may be deployed against a suspect whether expanded or collapsed; expanded, the baton's reach is extended, but collapsed, the baton is handier in close quarters. This provides greater versatility in a wider range of environments over the fixed-length baton.


However, expandable batons are not without some disadvantages:
  • Some police may prefer to carry a fixed baton due to the greater visual deterrence it may provide (which may be a benefit in the form of increasing the officer's command presence). Similarly, a fixed baton serves better as a conspicuous symbol of authority (i.e., "badge of office") than a collapsed expandable baton.
  • Fixed batons may often be less expensive than their collapsible counterparts of identical or similar quality. Because of this, some law enforcement departments, such as the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
    Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department
    The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is a local county law enforcement agency that serves Los Angeles County, California. It is the fourth largest local policing agency in the United States, with the New York City Police Department being the first. The second largest is the Chicago Police...

    , may issue a fixed-length baton, but have their officers/deputies purchase expandable batons at the option and expense of the individual officer.
  • Fixed batons may be inherently faster to bring into action, due to their not needing to first be extended before use as an impact weapon (unless one wishes to use a collapsible baton in collapsed form).
  • If an expandable baton is of friction-lock design, as most are, there is an inherent risk that the baton may inadvertently close at an inopportune moment while being used to strike a suspect.
  • In a situation in which stealth is required, a collapsed baton may rattle, giving away the officer's position.
  • Again, in theory the mere display of extending the baton may intimidate a subject, as the assumption may be that they intend to use it. Instinctually they may read this as a fight or flight situation, and as such it may actually provoke violence from the victim, or at the very least erratic behaviour.


Additionally, the baton, in collapsed configuration, may be used as a control device against non-compliant subjects in conjunction with pain-compliance control techniques, such as to remove a driver refusing to exit his or her vehicle. It can be used as a large kubotan
Kubotan
The Kubotan self-defense keychain is a close-quarter self-defense weapon developed by Takayuki Kubota. It is essentially a derivation of the stick, usually 5.5 inches long and 0.56 inch in diameter, slightly thicker or the same size as a marker pen...

.

Stun baton

Stun batons are an unusual modern variation designed to administer an electric shock in order to incapacitate the target. They consist of an insulated handle and guard, and a rigid shaft usually a foot or more in length for delivering a shock. Many designs function like an elongated stun gun or a cattle prod, requiring the tip to be held against the target and then manually triggering a shock by a switch in the handle. Some more sophisticated designs carry a charge along the shaft's entire surface, administering a shock on contact. This later design is especially useful in preventing the officer from having his weapon grabbed and taken away by an assailant.

Most batons of this design were not intended to be used as impact weapons and will break if used in this way, though a few were built to withstand occasional lighter impacts. They are rarely in use by patrol officers in modern times due to their price and the other associated problems with electroshock weapons.

Improvised impact weapons

A home made blackjack can be made using several techniques. Putting a bar of soap, rocks or some wet sand in a sock, then tying off the end makes a blackjack out of common items.

Some non-purpose built items have been used by law enforcement over the centuries as impact weapons. Examples are:
  • Pickaxe handles. These have been used in the British Army as an official guard baton.
  • Baseball bat
    Baseball bat
    A baseball bat is a smooth wooden or metal club used in the game of baseball to hit the ball after the ball is thrown by the pitcher. It is no more than 2.75 inches in diameter at the thickest part and no more than 42 inches in length. It typically weighs no more than 33 ounces , but it...


Flashlights

Although the Kel-Lite
Kel-Lite
Kel-Lite was the first heavy-duty aluminum bodied flashlight, which became popular with law enforcement agencies due to its heavy construction...

 in the 1970s appears to have been the first flashlight
Flashlight
A flashlight is a hand-held electric-powered light source. Usually the light source is a small incandescent lightbulb or light-emitting diode...

 designed specifically to be useful as an emergency defensive weapon, the best-known example is the D-cell
D battery
A D battery is a size of dry cell. A D cell is cylindrical with electrical contacts at each end; the positive end having a nub or bump...

 Maglite
Maglite
Maglite is a brand of flashlight manufactured in the United States by Mag Instrument, Inc. located in Ontario, California, and founded by Anthony Maglica. It was introduced in 1979. Constructed principally of anodized 6061 aluminum, they have a variable-focus beam...

, still in use by some law enforcement and security personnel.

Use of such flashlights as a club or baton is generally officially discouraged by the manufacturers and law enforcement officials, but its use is an option. As with all police weapons, there have been many allegations of misuse, such as in the Malice Green
Malice Green
Malice Green was a resident of Detroit, Michigan who died while in police custody after being arrested by Detroit police officers Walter Budzyn and Larry Nevers on November 5, 1992 during a traffic stop. Both officers were later convicted for Green's death. The official cause of death was ruled...

 beating in Detroit. However, it should be noted that the use of flashlights as improvised impact weapons is subject to the same use of force regulations as the use of purpose-designed impact weapons like batons.

Peace officers may often choose to use such flashlights because they are viewed primarily as illumination devices; thus, if a peace officer carries one in his hands during nighttime encounters with potentially violent subjects, it would be more difficult to file valid complaints (of "unnecessarily" brandishing a weapon) than if the officer were to be equipped with a baton or pepper spray
Pepper spray
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray , OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent that is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears...

 canister instead. This permits the officer to have an impact weapon in hand and ready for instantaneous action, rather than having to draw a baton or pepper spray canister.

Characteristic of a flashlight
Flashlight
A flashlight is a hand-held electric-powered light source. Usually the light source is a small incandescent lightbulb or light-emitting diode...

 used as a baton or club is the grip employed. Flashlights are commonly held with the bulb end pointing from the thumb side of the hand, such that it is pointing outward from the body when held palm upward. When wielded as a club, the bulb end points inward when the hand is palm upward, and the grip is closely choked to the bulb end. This grip has several advantages:
  1. The bulb end of a flashlight is usually flared and thus serves as a pommel
    Pommel
    Pommel may refer to:* pommel, the raised area at the front of an equestrian saddle.* Pommel, the counterweight at the end of the hilt of a European sword* Pommel horse, an artistic gymnastics apparatus...

     preventing the flashlight from slipping out of the hand when swung.
  2. The bulb end is more fragile and more likely to break on forceful contact.
  3. The bulb end has less mass than the opposite end which is usually filled with heavy batteries.

Gripping a flashlight in this way is somewhat less convenient for use as a light, since the natural position of the resting hand points the flashlight to the rear when standing. Thus when a flashlight is held in this manner it is often perceived as an “offensive” posture.

Another advantage to using a flashlight as a club is that in poorly lit situations it can be used to initially dazzle the eyes of an opponent. Law enforcement officers often deliberately shine flashlight beams into the eyes of suspects at night to cause temporary night-blindness as a preemptive defensive measure, whether or not the individual is likely to behave violently.

Legality

Batons are legal for sworn law enforcement and military in most countries around the world. However, the legality of civilian carry for purpose-built batons varies greatly by country, and by local jurisdictions.

In the United States, legality is determined by the laws of the individual states. Some such as Vermont or Arizona allow for legal carry in the absence of unlawful behavior or criminal intent. Others such as California have general prohibitions against the carrying of all "club
Club (weapon)
A club is among the simplest of all weapons. A club is essentially a short staff, or stick, usually made of wood, and wielded as a weapon since prehistoric times....

" weapons by non-law enforcement. Such jurisdictions will sometimes make exceptions for persons employed as security guards or bodyguards, will provide for permits to be obtained for legal carry, or make exceptions for persons who complete an appropriate training course.

In the UK, batons are considered to be offensive weapons (as they are "made or adapted for use for causing injury to the person"), which prohibits their possession in a public place under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953
Prevention of Crime Act 1953
The Prevention of Crime Act 1953 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that restricts the carrying of offensive weapons in public...

. In addition, manufacturing, selling, lending and importing fixed and telescopic batons are all prohibited under section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
In Canada, there is no specific law that prohibits batons; except for spring-loaded batons, which are defined as a prohibited weapon under a regulation entitled Regulations Prescribing Certain Firearms and other Weapons, Components and Parts of Weapons, Accessories, Cartridge Magazines, Ammunition and Projectiles as Prohibited or Restricted (also capable of being referred to by its registration number: SOR 98-462). However, it is a crime under section 90 of the Criminal Code of Canada
Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code or Code criminel is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law"...

 to carry any weapon, including a baton, in a concealed fashion.

See also

  • Jutte
  • Sjambok
    Sjambok
    The sjambok or litupa is the official heavy leather whip of South Africa, sometimes seen as synonymous with apartheid but actually much older and still used outside the official judiciary....

  • Lathi
    Lathi
    Lathi means stick and also refers to an Indian martial art based on cane-fighting. The word is used in Hindi, Bengali and various other Indian languages. The lathi typically measures 6 to and may be tipped with metal. It commonly used as a crowd control device by the Indian Police and other South...

  • Weighted-knuckle gloves
    Weighted-knuckle gloves
    Weighted-knuckle gloves, also called sap gloves, are a type of weapon used in hand to hand combat. They consist of a pair of ordinary looking gloves usually made of leather or a synthetic material, with powdered lead or steel sewn into a special pouch covering the knuckles, and often the backs of...

  • Flexible baton round
    Flexible baton round
    A bean bag round, also known by its trademarked name flexible baton round, is a baton round fired as a shotgun shell used for less lethal apprehension of suspects.-Description:...

  • Espantoon
    Espantoon
    The espantoon is a wooden police baton equipped with a long leather strap for twirling. It originated, and is still strongly associated, with the Baltimore Police Department in the city of Baltimore, Maryland...


External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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