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American COP May/June 2011 Digital Edition - Page 34
Flashlights: FlAshlIGhts: FlAshlIGhts: Suzi Huntington The Streamlight SL-Series (left) demonstrates a primary full-sized rechargeable flashlight. Maglite and Bluestone also make rechargeables, but these lights are examples of the full-sized light you should have tucked in the gear bag in your trunk — for that “what-if” moment. The Need For Three sakid,myfamilyhada1968Chevy Kingswood station wagon. There was a perfect spot between the middle benchseatandtherear-facingrearseatforakidto “camp”duringlongroadtrips.IfIwasluckyenoughtohave aturninthisspot(therewerefourofusgirls),I’dplayinthe darknessofthecubbywiththeflashlightmyfolkskeptinthe glovebox.Duringmychildhoodflashlightswerefuntoys.A smalloneliketheoneinthecarseemedtoweigharoundfive pounds—atleastthat’smymemory. There were other ways we played with flashlights in our childhood. Our grandparents had ancient relics made from bakelite,whichranontwoCorDbatteriesandputoutjust enough light to give a darkened closet a dingy yellow cast. Compared to the flashlight technology of today, those old memoriesareprettydimlylit. A Most full-sized rechargeables like those from Streamlight,Maglite,PelicanandBayco use halogen or xenon bulbs fortheprimarylightsource.These bulbs are extremely bright, but can bedelicate.Theydon’tdowellwhen dropped—particularlywhilethelight is on. Always have a few spare bulbs withyou,keepingoneinthetailcap.5.11 Tactical’s rechargeable light uses LEDs, whicharemoreforgivingwhendroppedand lastlongerthanincandescentbulbs. None of these lights are “cheap,” but then againneitherisyourlife.You’llhavetodosome investigating to figure out which full-sized light worksbestforyou.Youshouldconsiderweight—thinkticket writing;brightness—howfarawayyouwanttosee,ormomentarilyblindingasuspect;run-time—havingalightthatcanmake itthroughalongtrafficpostorcrimescene,andcost—what’sthe bestlightyoucanaffordonyourbudget. Backup Lights Inaperfectworldourprimarylightswouldneverrunout ofjuice,blowbulbsorhavemalfunctioninginnards.Andin Your Primary Light The main flashlight you use should be a full-sized, rechargeablelight.Whethermadefromaluminum,plastic,nylon polymersoreventitanium;allthesematerialsarelightweight and very durable.A rechargeable primary light is important becauseyouneedittobeabletomakeitthroughanentireshift withouthavingtoreplacebatteries.Andsincemostrechargeablelightscomewithadapterstoallowforcharginginyour car,youcanalwayskeepyourlighttoppedoffthroughoutyour shift.Theselightsweren’taroundwhenIfirstworkedthefield anditwasn’tunusualforthelow-bidDbatteriestogetsucked dryafterjustafewcalls. Yourprimarylightshoulddotwothings—turnonandoff. That’sit;noflashy-flashystrobefunctionordifferentcolored lightsormodestocyclethrough.Onandoff—anditshould bebright,themorelumensorcandela,thebetter.Beingable to dim the light is fine, but the light should always initially turnontoitshighestsetting.Andhere’ssomethingyoumay nothavethoughtof:theon/offswitchforyourprimarylight shouldbeontheneckofthelight,notthetailcap.You’llhave agood,firmgriponyourlightwhenyou’reoperatingitand shouldyouneedtosuddenlyuseitasanimpactweapon,you won’tbefumblingtogetabettergrip. 34 Mini and key chain lights come in different sizes, brightness levels, bulb/ LED styles and batteries used. You can spend as little or as much as you want, but every cop should have one. (Top to bottom: SureFire T1A Titan, Streamlight Microstream, Maglite Solitaire and Streamlight Nano) WWW.AMERICANCOPMAGAZINE.COM • MAY/JUNE 2011