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Trainer Talk

Hands Free Lighting

Hands Free Lighting


Flashlights—and especially law enforcement lights—have come a long way in the 21st century. It wasn’t so long ago that police officers carried duty lights with three or four batteries (or even five massive “D” cells in some cases), and relatively dim, fragile incandescent bulbs. These flashlights were heavy, bulky and less than ideal to carry. Frankly, back in the day they were used as impact weapons nearly as much as Illumination tools. Fortunately, today's technology has made flashlights lighter, orders of magnitude brighter, and much easier to carry. And one of the best developments is that it is now possible to both carry and use a duty light while leaving both hands free.

As police offers, we regularly find ourselves in situations where we need the use of both hands while still keeping a light on something (and we don’t usually wear headlamps). Violent encounters happen more often at night, and yet not all of them call for drawing a gun and using its weapon light. Even when a firearm is called for, not all carry mounted lights, and gripping a pistol with two hands provides better control than using the flashlight hand as support. In other situations, administering first aid and lifting or moving an injured person is obviously easier with two hands free. Using two hands when controlling a subject and applying restraints is a must. In short, we risk putting ourselves—and the safety of the public—in danger if we are unable to use our lights and both of our hands in these situations.

ASP includes flashlight training as part of its worldwide, 3-day Integrated Instructor courses. Drills incorporate empty hand techniques with defensive illumination. Baton strikes are performed while using the light to “distract, disorient and disable” the subject. Then we transition to hands free lighting to control and cuff the individual. We are able to do all of this thanks to a unique tool called the Tactical Light Case, or TLC.

The TLC is a belt case with an open bottom that allows the light to shine through. It is custom designed for specific ASP flashlights. The light is securely stowed, lens down, in the case, which can then be rotated 360 degrees to aim the light in any direction. Rotating the light forward and upward allows the officer to keep the subject illuminated. And the bright light in the subject’s eyes provides a tactical advantage, increased control and improved officer safety. Using a TLC for hands free illumination eliminates the disadvantages of occupying your reaction hand, casing the light into darkness or having to release the light altogether in use of force scenarios.

Like the tools themselves, low light training has evolved. It is no longer just about weapon mounted lights for room clearing, or the trade-off of compromising a two-handed pistol grip to hold a light in the reaction hand. Accessories like the TLC give the officer more options, and that translates to greater safety and effectiveness on the job.

James Schramm

NYPD (ret.)

ASP Trainer since 2004