We all know that our law enforcement officers use firearms as their defense weapon. But there is another instrument they use which is called the Baton. A baton is one of the most widely used less-lethal self-defense equipment. It originated from the wooden truncheon used by police officers in London back in the Victorian times. It also served as the policemen’s warrant card and their symbol of authority way back. After some time, different designs of baton were invented namely, straight stick, sap, blackjack, side-handle baton, and the most recent is the expandable baton.
An expandable baton is made of steel cylindrical tubing with inner shafts which can be collapsed together. It is an impact tool that is used to strike, jab and block, and support arm locks, and immobilize suspects as well. There are also other terms for this equipment like, telescopic baton, steel baton, retractable baton, tactical baton, metal baton, or security baton. From the different designs of baton, the expandable baton is the easiest to deploy and is much safer as well.
There are many manufacturers of expandable batons. One of the oldest and well-known is the Armament Systems Procedures, Inc. (ASP, Inc.), which is founded in 1976. In fact, most of the security and law enforcement officers use the term “ASP” in referring to an expandable baton.
This equipment is easy to carry because of its collapsible function. It is usually 15 to 25 cm long, which allows you to attach it to a belt. There are three types of expandable baton. The friction-loc, the lever-loc, and the disc-loc. The friction-loc baton is the most common type. It is the one that is supposed to be strike on a hard surface for it to retract. The lever-loc baton is the one that is needed to be twisted for it to collapse. And lastly, the newest type of baton which is the disc-loc. It is also called the ‘push button’ baton because it has a button on the end of the grip which will allow the baton to retract when pressed.
An expandable baton is a good weapon because it can control the suspect without using a deadly force. But just like any other weapon, proper training is needed to use the equipment more effectively. Expandable batons are versatile weapons that can be found at any police supply store, but be wary because some states restrict the use or possession of the equipment without permit. It can become illegal, of course, when it is used or is intended to be used in an offensive manner, which can result to additional charges.
There are also three important things to consider when buying an expandable baton. First is its size. It varies depending on your physical capabilities and strength. If it’s too long, it can be difficult to use in crowded places. If it is too short, the strikes can be limited because you can be too close to the subject. Another important thing to consider is your ability to control the equipment. A too heavy baton may slow you down, and a too light baton may not have much effect. Last and probably the most important thing to consider is the deployment, or how well you can access and use the equipment. Just like any other weapon, it is important to know when, where, and how to strike. This weapon, being tagged as less-lethal, has measures to follow on what body parts are supposed to be hit. When attacking a suspect, the target areas are the joints. The spine, head, and neck should be avoided.
Expandable batons, aside from being a self-defense weapon, can also be used in emergency cases such as breaking windows or the safety glass surrounding a fire extinguisher enclosure, or levering doors to gain entry to vehicles and structures.
Like any other equipment, there are also some cons in using an expandable baton. Its collapsible design is one of the cons, because it may accidentally close while using it. It may also create a rattling sound, which is not helpful especially during stealth operations. It may also cause a delay since it takes an effort to open and close it back when needed. Also, its weight is mostly on its handle or grip, which may give a less forceful blow because the tip is the thinnest part. Since the mass is insufficient on the tip, it can easily be bent as well. Aside from its structure, another disadvantage is being pain compliance, especially when dealing with people with high tolerance in pain and who are under the influence of drugs.
These disadvantages may have caused the decrease in the use of expandable batons when the 20th century came. More so when non-lethal alternatives were introduced such as the Taser and the pepper spray. Many of the officers stopped using expandable batons because they sometimes find it difficult to justify their use of it. It also makes them look intimidating when they carry the equipment. Also, most of the states nowadays consider this equipment illegal. Though, some still find expandable batons more useful and costs less than Tasers and pepper sprays. It is also much easier to maintain.
Overall, an expandable baton, with proper skills and training, is an effective weapon against criminals. As what Theodore Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.”