POLICE Magazine

FEB 2019

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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10 P O L I C E F E B R UA R Y 2 019 W hen you're looking to pur- chase a car, you might be tempted to purchase the first pret- ty, flashy model you see with a bunch of cool-sounding features. But then you risk ending up with a tiny sporty convertible when what you really wanted and needed was an SUV with enough room to haul your fishing gear and your best fishing buddies. e same holds true for your duty light. Before you start shopping you need to understand a bit about flashlight features and what they can do for you. en you can nar- row down your options to a few contenders and compare them to find the one that best meets your needs. Otherwise you might end up with something you don't ac- tually want or need. And finding a light source you can depend on when things go south is too important to mess up for lack of effort. With that in mind, here are some tips to help narrow down your search. 1. LOOK BEYOND LUMENS. "You shouldn't always get caught up in lumens," warns Tim Taylor, Streamlight's director of law enforcement and sporting goods sales. "at seems to be all anybody can hear or see. But just as more horsepower doesn't always equal faster cars, you can have a lower lumen flashlight that works better than a higher lumen flashlight." Part of the puz- zle is understanding the difference between lumens and candela. "Candela is really more about light on target, the distance it can reach. Lumens is just a rating that gives the output of a light," explains Taylor. "You can have a light with a lot of lumens that doesn't have a lot of light downrange." e quality of the beam is important, too. e flashlight should produce a solid beam without imperfections. When you shine it against the wall, you shouldn't see any "holes" in the projected beam. If you do, those holes could be places where your light won't show you something lurking in the shadows. Or that deficiency could decrease the effectiveness of using your light in the eyes of a subject you're attempting to disorient for safety reasons. 2. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT YOUR LIGHT TO DO FOR YOU. If you're going to use it to search a warehouse or an open field you should look for a light that can go a fair distance, which requires more candela. If what you want is to dis- orient a subject in close proximity to you, you're better off looking for more lumens. But much of that depends on where you work. "e Tennessee Highway patrol might not look at the same light as an LAPD officer is going to use," says Taylor. "e city officer working mostly in streets or alleys is prob- ably not going to encounter the same situations as the South Car- olina Highway Patrol officer, who spends more time looking across fields or down a mountain." Another consideration is if it's best to have multiple flashlights for different tasks. "Having the right tool for the right job is important. Not one for everything," suggests Andrew Wright, Surefire's public relations manager. "If you need something for high output immediately, we recommend having a tactical flash- light, and it goes to high output first. Or it's only high. If you need a light for ad- ministrative tasks, you can have a sec- ondary light for that, a backup." 3. CONSIDER FLASHLIGHTS THAT USE RE- CHARGEABLE BATTERIES ONLY OR ARE "DU- AL-FUEL." In traditional alkaline dispos- able batteries, you'll see a slow gradual reduction in the quality of light. Most law enforcement officers want their lights to put out the maximum amount of light for the entire time they're need- ed, which newer batteries can do. And then you just need backup batteries to put in when the batteries finally stop working. Plus, why buy a bunch of cheaper disposable batteries when you can reuse rechargeable batteries for PHOTO: POLICE FILE HOW TO BUY A FLASHLIGHT A FEW POINTERS CAN HELP YOU FIND THE BEST ILLUMINATION TOOL TO MEET YOUR NEEDS ON DUTY. H MELANIE BASICH HOW TO... Test any flashlight by going through the motions of using it as you would on duty before you buy.

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