Due to a scheduling mishap, I only attended one LEEP training session during day two of SHOT Show. The session was about the advantage using good quality lights gives officers. Kevin Skeehan, who serves with Las Vegas Metro, shared a number of cases that showed his personal experience with the use of lights in law enforcement situations.
He described what he called the “Tactical Trilogy” of illumination. This systems approach to combat lighting includes three components:
1.) Primary Light: This is the large light usually provided in your squad car. As Kevin notes (and I am not alone in also experiencing this), oftentimes this gets left in the car when officers bail out to deal with quickly evolving situations.
2.) Weapon Light: Pistol, rifle, shotgun or sub gun, Skeehan is a strong believer in a light mounted on whatever firearms you are carrying. He demonstrated the difficulty of operating a long gun tactically while attempting to hold a loose flashlight in your off hand — particularly awkward with a shotgun.
In a conversation with him after class, he strongly advocated a pressure switch on handgun lights, since there have been instances of officer accidently firing their guns when attempting to activate a pistol-mounted light with their trigger fingers. These lights also allow for a two-handed hold on the weapon that greatly aids in accuracy under stress versus a one-handed hold or a marginal two-handed hold using a flashlight in the non-dominant hand.
3.) Backup Light: The light that you should be carrying on your duty belt at all times. He gave several examples of officers responding to dangerous calls during day shift and not having any lights on them. He strongly advocates the “one is none, two is one” philosophy when it comes to lights on duty.
Failure to Train and Deliberate Indifference
He argued strongly for the continued training in use of lights for officers, since a lot of officers only receive instruction in their use during the academy. He warned the audience about potential lawsuits for failure to train and deliberate indifference.
He explained that the majority of police officer–involved shootings occur in low light conditions, but tactical lights are only used in about 10% of those low light shootings.
He also explained that a bright light can serve as a non-reportable use of force option. Specifically, the light can be used to take away people’s night vision, locate them when they are hiding, and provide a wall of light to hide behind when moving in darkened conditions.
Kevin urges officers to remember that when dealing with a weapon-mounted light, a very simple rule applies: If you aren’t authorized to aim your gun at it, don’t point your weapon light at it. He suggests officers use their primary light to light up those situations and people that you are not authorized to point your gun at. Should the situation change, the handheld light can be transitioned to the weapons light by either dropping the handheld light or stowing it.
Light up the Room with Wrist-Mounted Lights
During the presentation, Kevin showed the new WristLights from SureFire. As the name implies, it straps onto your wrist like a watch. The lights are intended to be used by officers whose departments may not allow a weapon-mounted light. It is designed to be turned on by the other hand and angled so that the light lights up the area in front of someone using a two-handed hold.
The light has a much broader beam than a standard flashlight, which makes it great at illuminating larger areas during room searches. There are two versions of the WristLight, one of which actually includes a watch, making it a tactical illuminating time piece.