Duty Flashlights - Same Tool, Smaller Size

Jan. 19, 2017
Officers now have even more options for flashlights that are brighter and more compact than the traditional duty light

Imagine being on graves and arriving to a scene that is unlit by streetlamps or the moon. You are a chasing a suspect, need light, but do not want to alert them that you are there.

“At times having a flashlight with dimmer settings really helps,” says Interim Lieutenant Lawrence Chavez of the Ruidoso (New Mexico) Police Department. This allows the officer to use the lowest setting to light the way without drawing attention from the suspect. Something as simple as an effective and versatile duty flashlight is important for policing. Chavez says having a flashlight that is suitable for each environment encountered is key. The newest lights on the market are incorporating technology as well as functionality and purpose in their design.

The Albemarle County Police Department in Charlottesville, Virginia issues high quality yet budget friendly flashlight units to its officers. The department suggests the purchase of additional lights such as the PowerTac USA Warrior Reloaded Law Enforcement package. “This is by far the best light we currently use,” says First Sergeant M. Powers. The package includes a multi-output 850 Lumen, rechargeable LED Flashlight that incorporates a strobe option. ACPD officers are issued a MagLite MagCharger LED rechargeable flashlight that has a max of 640 lumens. Efficiency, and reliability are top priorities when looking for flashlights for the department says Powers. “We use the highest lumen count we can for each application.”

The Houston PD, the Boston PD, and Cambridge PD all have their personnel choose their own duty flashlight according to officer preferences. Numerous departments adhere to this practice. Still other departments have one or two specific lights or particular criteria that a duty light must meet. The choice of flashlights has expanded to meet every need. LAPD has made the Pelican 7060 LED their go-to. This particular light was launched in 2007 and was made to meet patrol light standards. The one-size-fits-all duty staple has made a positive impact on the force. “The 7060 is unique in that is was made by Pelican for the LAPD specifically,” says Scott Jones, marketing director of lighting at Pelican. The need for a flashlight that was both bright and long lasting was imperative.

Jones says the flashlight has solved problems the LAPD and other departments have faced. Such recurring problem was an issue with liability. Jones says several departments often face lawsuits over improper use-of-force. Negative feedback arose from the use of large duty lights. A smaller light equal in power to a larger model allows officers to carry less weight with them and still have a defense tool. The main requirements for a useful duty light lies in the ability to have a bright, compact and versatile light in one tool. The 7060 has a maximum of 368 lumens and is able to run three hours before recharging. The 7060 weighs a little over ten ounces, and is easy to carry at 8.65 inches long. Duty flashlights have become much more compact, making them easy to store as well.

“The LAPD needed a flashlight that could serve as a duty light and a tactical one,” Jones says. The 7060 is ideal for patrol due to the dual switches. Having a switch at the tail and at the side allows for the change from a patrol light to a tactical one to be convenient for the officer. Three settings, smaller design, and improved LED technology make the 7060 practical for police officers.

Just as LAPD chose an all-in-one light, many agencies equip their officers with multi-purpose flashlights that serve officers well for patrol and tactical purposes. The duty light is constantly being improved to meet the requirements of officers in an efficient way. Pelican expanded their tactical product line with the 7600. Made with law enforcement in mind, the 7600 weighs 6.9 ounces and has three color modes. Jones says the red and green modes in particular are ideal for night vision. Each mode is programmable and provides an element which an officer needs in a go-to torch.
The original tactical light or duty light used for patrol was often expensive and still did not meet every need of law enforcement personnel. The duty flashlight has come a long way from the bulky aluminum originally used in manufacturing.

“Lightweight polymer construction is now as common as aluminum,” says Lauren Danielson, Online Manager and Social Media Coordinator of Galls. LED lights have become standard and are used more than other bulbs. Danielson says rechargeable batteries are common as well. Rechargeable flashlights use a USB cord that is similar to a cell phone charger. The ability to recharge the flashlight using a USB cord allows the officer to recharge the light anywhere.

Improvements in LED and battery technology have had the largest impact on new patrol light design. The average length for a duty flashlight is now seven to nine inches long, making lights more convenient for officers. These lights are used for other needs too, such as a defense tool. Most duty lights are equipped with additional features that are common for tactical lights.

Danielson says a number of duty lights now have tail cap switches and multiple brightness modes that may be programmable. These flashlights are lightweight, easy to operate, and offer a more brilliant light. The Galls Handheld LED Tactical Flashlight is shock-resistant and offers 110 lumens with three hours of running time. Lights such as the Streamlight ProTac HL USB are also considered tactical. This light is still compact and is able to clip to a pocket.

Made from aircraft aluminum, this durable flashlight is water resistant and has added sliding metal sleeve that covers the USB. Lights such as these are ideal for law enforcement personnel because of the length of time the flashlight may be used as well as the levels of lumens. The Streamlight Pro Tac HL USB may be used for one and a half hours at the highest setting of 850 lumens. The medium level lasts four hours at 350 lumens and the lowest setting runs for 12 hours at 85 lumens.

Additional components departments are looking for include a flashlight that is bright, convenient, rechargeable, and long lasting. Having a flashlight that is smaller allows the officer to be able to hold it while performing other duties, such as searching a crime scene, or holding a weapon while surveying a scene. Duty lights such as the Streamlight Stinger DS LED rechargeable flashlight give four options for programming. Officers can choose from modes that encompass high, medium, low and strobe. This light illuminates well from far distances. The Stinger has a peripheral illumination option and dual switches also.

In New Mexico at the Ruidoso Police Department, officers are issued a Streamlight 20XP LED. Interim Lieutenant Lawrence Chavez says the criteria they look for in a duty light is effectiveness and reliability. The departments’ light of choice is a cost efficient flashlight that is able to meet each necessity for the officers. For Ruidoso PD having a backup light is crucial. “It is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it,” says Chavez. He adds the majority of officers carry an extra light.

Sirchie also offers a wide selection of flashlights and alternative lighting resources for law enforcement. These lights may be used in a variety of ways depending on the circumstance. For example, the Paladin Light scene light has a lantern head, which detaches and may be handheld. Senior Director of Global Marketing and Commercial Strategy at Sirchie, Andy Marilla, says the head weight is around ten pounds and is light enough for officers to carry with them. “The high setting is equipped with 10,000 lumens,” says Marilla.

Sirchie also has additional scene lighting options that may be used in a stationary setting or a portable one. Marilla says the Nomad 360 is a popular choice among police departments due to its versatility. The Nomad 360 has three settings: The lowest setting is 700 lumens with a battery life of 24 hours. The medium setting has 2,100 lumens and has a battery life of nine hours, while the highest setting illuminates using 7,000 lumens and has a battery life of three hours. The 360 may be easily converted to suit the officers current need and is waterproof. This rechargeable, cordless light is ideal for any type of scene. It can provide a 360 degree circle of light or even have all sides pointing in one direction for spotlight effect.

A productive flashlight encompasses each of an officer’s needs without compromising on quality or effect. Now that duty and tactical flashlights share similar attributes and are easier to carry, officers can rest assured that their lighting needs are being met.

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