NJCOPS ARTICLE FOR APRIL 2014- LOW LIGHT TACTICS FBI studies show that most fire fights occur between the hours 6pm and 6am and the FBI study puts that number at about 66%. However, a much more recent New York City study shows that the number of fire fights that occur in low light conditions in more like 86%. The reason for this is fire fights that occur in the daytime hours often happen in dark basements, hallways or in conditions that cause an officer to run from sunlight into darkness. So the message is always carry a flashlight with you, even during the day shifts. Flashlight tactics have dramatically changed over the past ten years. Twenty years ago, when I first became a police officer, the large, four D cell, or rechargeable flashlight was standard issue for police officers. No good cop would be without their MAG Light that double as a secondary night stick if needed. Today’s officer is seeing the MAG Light being phased out for the smaller, lighter tactical flashlight that provide higher lumens, features such as strobe and laser functions and they too can also be used as impact weapons with features such as a bezzled edges. Now, weapon mounted flashlights are becoming standard in the field. This is an awesome tactical advantage because now you can maintain your two handed grip on the weapon instead of having to modify for the flashlight. For all of the advantages of a weapon mounted flashlight, just remember that you will still need a hand held light for normal duty functions. When using your light, hand held or weapon mounted, make sure that you use it as tactically as possible. First, use the flashlight sparingly. We do not want to give away our position when approaching a vehicle or a scene so turn it on, then off, and move from your position. Second, when you first encounter a suspect or subject use the light to your advantage. The Surefire Academy calls it “Dominate with the Light”. In other words shine the light directly into the subject’s eyes. Make them uncomfortable and make them move their hands up to shield the light. Now, you were just able to see what is in a subject’s hands…remember the hands are what kill, see the hands and you will see any threats. Also, move the light away from our body. If a bad guy is looking to shoot then he will shoot at the light so extend that light away from our body so we do not present ourselves as a target. A handheld tactical flashlight should always be on your duty belt, day or night. You never know where you’re next call is going to bring you even on a bright sunny day, but we do know that the bad guys like to operate in the darkness so be sure to have that light with you to expose them. A flashlight is like any other piece of gear that we have and it needs to be properly maintained. The small tactical lights will go through batteries fairly quickly depending upon the use so make sure that you check them and change them regularly.