Police Study of tactical use of Strobe

Wurkkos

Grizzlyb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
402
Location
Amsterdam
With this article I’ll try to share with you the knowledge we have about handheld Tactical Lights (to name TL) in general and the use of the Strobe specifically.


1.Why do I think this is needed and 2. How come I (we) have this knowledge?

Much reactions I hear about the use of Strobe, are based on “hear say” or someone’s own opinion.
So, time to clear some facts about TL and Strobe as far as knowledge goes in 2013.

How do I get these “Facts” ?

I am working as a Police trainer (over 10 years) in tactics for regular cops and special force units.(hand to hand combat and firearms training) I am on the police force (in 8 different units and special arrest squads) since 1972 and still in active service.

Most of the 40+ Police trainers on our Police Academy are combat specialists and we train in all sorts of technical and tactical equipment.
30+ years ago, we were already working with lights and made use of it to gain tactical advancement.
Last 10 years we noticed a strong increase in technical development in the handheld lights.
So we adapted our training methods to what was technical possible at the moment.
At the same pace our tactical (and technical) knowledge grew, and with that our insides of what was possible.

So far the why and how.


DEVELOPMENT TL


About 7 years ago we decided to take the tactical use of handheld lights to the next step, and make it into a long term study of the concept. We had the means, the knowledge and the people to work with (work on :naughty: ) We not only train police officers in active duty, but also Police students in their different levels of academy training. (I am not ashamed to say, that many hundreds of them were our guinea pigs in training sessions on the Academy. )

We changed the concept several times and handed new samples of development to officers in different divisions. (Cops on regular duty, traffic squads, detective, arrest squads, K9 cops, cops on Horse duty, and other specialized groups)
We also did research on the possibility of eye damage or other health problems.

Most tactical and technical research was by trial and error, just learn from your mistakes, don’t take any “hear say” for granted, find it out Yourselves and if proven, adept your training and hardware. We made a list of questions that every student had to fill out after training. Of course we also saw the results of the use of our tactical lights during these training sessions. 90% of our trainings are non-weapon training. Fire arms training with TL is a little different, but most findings apply to both.
In our work with these TL’s, and the findings of our “guinea pigs” we came to the conclusion that strobe is by far the better choice to disorient an opponent, then a normal light beam (at same lm)

STROBE MODE


Having said that, the right strobe needs some clear specs.
We found, that with a slow or changing strobe, the opponent was able to (slowly) move their hands without being detected. The strobe is still very disorienting from the slower 5hz to 12hz and even higher, but the effect seems to get less when going much faster than 24hz.

We worked the strobe up to around 18hz to 20hz and that problem (noticing movements)was tackled. At 18hz to 20hz, the strobe was still extremely disorientating and the opponent could not move a finger without detection.
So, strobes at 8hz, 10hz, 12hz etc ARE very disorienting, but could have unwanted negative side effects for the LEO.
Thats why we chose for the 18hz to 20hz, less unwanted side effects.

Best result on a tactical level is a beam as tight as possible. With this tight beam, all the light is concentrated in the eyes of the opponent. This way you’re partner can approach the opponent undetected up to touching, and do the things you were trained for. (working in low/no light conditions)
Flood lights are for searching and should not be used in a dedicated TL. You’ll shine on your partner and make him an easy target. Working with lights that had a flood beam, especially in teams, we found that a big part of the flood was increasing the light level on the hole working place, up to the level that the blinding "tunnel" effect was greatly diminished.

Students found it impossible to estimate distances under the right strobe. They could not tell if the distance was 3 feet or 10 feet. That is a very worthy tactical advantage when approaching an aggressive person.

Many times the students made a flinch movement and automatically brought their hand/arm between the TL and eyes (easy to grab) Or they even closed their eyes, (what better opponent then a blind opponent )

Aggressive drunken persons had a harder time to stay upright. They had a tendency to stumble/fall before they could make their attack. Most students learned to use the TL strobe on aggressive persons with mental disorder. In Holland we train to hold back on OC/ Pepper spray when dealing with these sorts of persons.
They are more patients then criminals. So blinding them for a short period is as effective as spray, but does them no harm. We learned that it is better to use TL strobe indoors or in busses/trains etc.
Less chance of getting sprayed them selves.

On the firing range we found that this type of strobe did not diminish the results of shooting targets. Being strobed at, makes it very hard to shoot back effectively. To sighed your target You must look directly in that strobe, which is extremely difficult. (ehh yes, we shoot at each other with special non-lethal training ammo called simunition, it hurts thou :laughing:)

Apart from the strobe there are lots of other requirements to rebuild a light to a dedicated TL for our profession.
In the end, that dedicated Police TL, was not build by any manufacturer. They build what they THINK is good for us, not what we need.
So we had to make/design it ourselves. We approached many manufacturers, only 1 was innovative enough to take up the challenge.
The TL we now have, can even be used in lots of useful other ways. It can be turned 360 degrees in its holster, for hands free working. With 1 hand You can detach it form you belt and put the complete set somewhere to light a room.

To make this text not longer than needed, I’ll make a list of our findings with short explanations.


When is a TL a dedicated TL for police duty (for the situation in European country's)?
1. 1-handed quick draw, of course not weapon hand. (a device is only tactical if it can be used instantly without searching for it.)

2. Carry the TL in a special dedicated holster, upside down, attached to belt or holster with a short spiral cord. (not to weak that it breaks easily, but not to strong that it can be used to strangle a person)

3.
Thump operated momentary rear switch ONLY. (Absolutely NO side switches and NO double switches. Those are not usable under stress when sometimes half a second is too much. Study’s proof, that it is almost impossible to make use of your fine motoric skills under higher levels of stress. What you can do, is just press your thumb and hold it or release it. With enough training you can learn to improve this just marginally)

4. ALWAYS starts up in strobe mode, after that it can be made to switch to other modes. This mode sequence may not be made changeable. (Police officers are 100% human; the majority is practical and NOT tactical in nature. So when it IS changeable, many will try to reset the mode to what they use a normal light mainly for. . . .read a driver’s license or to write something. Then it becomes a normal light and not a the tactical devise it was designed to be)

5. At least 450lm throw type beam at up to 2 hours. (at least 2500 lux at 3 meters). (The effects of blinding and disorientation are optimal enough on that intensity. On lower lm the effect is less and not optimal.)
Technically this is a challenge. Small head, much throw, high lumens. In 2013 we ended up with the choice for the XP-G R5 LED. In that small 34mm head it has less flood then the XM-L’s, and has a better power efficiency. For our findings, it still could be less spill, but that technical hurdle was to high at this technical level.

6.It has to be small enough for daily belt carriage. Max 140mm long, head wide max 34mm, body size about 1 x 18650 battery, weight max 400gr. Incl. TL/battery/holder etc. (when it is to large, LEO’s tend to leave it in the car or at the station and what is tactical about a light You don’t have on you when you need it.)

7. 100 % reliable under heavy duty. (hand to hand combat tests, drop tests and water tests should be of standard required level)

8. Cost effective, so rechargeable batteries and chargers. (Due to size and battery life the protected 18650 size is our preferred power source. We work with these batteries for the last 3 years and have had zero defects or problems with them.)

9. In Holland there are strict regulations about what weapons a police officer may carry. Metal rods with “strike bezels” are NOT one of those weapons. So our TL’s are NOT equipped with a strike bezel or sharp rims “to see if the light is turned on :crackup:?” . (we never put a burning TL with it's head standing on a surface and we don’t like the idea of making bloody wounds by ripping the flesh of someone’s skin during an arrest. A special hardend point to shatter a car window is an other thing, thats already on my key chain.)


Keep in mind,

a. This concept developed more into a tactical device (complete concept), that can also be used as a light. Not in the sense that the standard lights most people have and “more or less” can be used tactically in some situations.
b. Forget the word “tactical” in the sense that the sales market is using it. That is not tactical in any way but a tactical financial way.


With this article I hope to have given you some new info on the subjects of Strobe and Tactical Lights. Apart from a dedicated TL for regular LEO’s, we also developed dedicated lights for other specialized departments in the Police force. I can’t elaborate on that, but it is a work in progress.

Oh yes, forgot to mention that it takes practice to use the tactical advantages of a dedicated TL. You'll need a good trainer that is informed of the latest info and training methods. Even most Police trainers are not up to date in this knowledge.
That’s normal, we all have our specialty's. You can't know all.


Excuses for translational mishaps, I am Dutch so English is not my native tongue. I don't use translation programs, lots of language misses are not found by them anyway.

Friendly regards

K. vd Linden

Edit:
This article is mainly about the tactical use of Strobe for LEO's.
Different uses in the private sector is not part of this research. Thou we did start with some research on the use of strobe on animals.
Blinding lights can be dangerous when wrongly used in traffic or when high velocity is involved.
 
Last edited:

thedoc007

Flashlight Enthusiast
Supporter
Joined
Feb 16, 2013
Messages
3,631
Location
Michigan, USA
Re: What situations is Strobe the perfect choice.

Informative, and I am impressed by your English language skills. Frankly you are better at it than many native speakers...
 

Grizzlyb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
402
Location
Amsterdam
Re: What situations is Strobe the perfect choice.

Informative, and I am impressed by your English language skills. Frankly you are better at it than many native speakers...

tiphat2-Ti.gif
 

reppans

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Mar 25, 2007
Messages
4,873
What situations is Strobe the perfect choice.

Wow... excellent write-up, and from REAL Pro. Outstanding and thanks for sharing!
 

jcw122

Enlightened
Joined
Jun 19, 2009
Messages
445
Re: What situations is Strobe the perfect choice.

Wow this is a tremendous contributions to the community! I'd even vote this up for a sticky considering that so many useless threads about strobe pop up around here.

Grizzlyb, you may want to just change the thread title to something like "Real World Police Study of Strobe" or something like that....the current title sounds like a question. I think you'll get more views if people don't think it's an ordinary strobe thread.

And yes, the English isn't too bad at all :)
 
Last edited:

Grizzlyb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
402
Location
Amsterdam
Re: What situations is Strobe the perfect choice.

Grizzlyb, you may want to just change the thread title to something like "Real World Police Study of Strobe" or something like that....the current title sounds like a question. I think you'll get more views if people don't think it's an ordinary strobe thread.

And yes, the English isn't too bad at all :)

Thanks,
Excellent remark. Done :twothumbs
 

sinnyc

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
161
Having said that, the right strobe needs some clear specs. We found out, that with a slow or changing strobe, the opponent was able to (slowly) move their hands without being detected.

We worked the strobe up to around 18hz to 20hz and that problem was tackled. At 20hz the strobe was still extremely disorientating and the opponent could not move a finger without detection.

Thank you for the excellent write up. I was particularly interested in the fact that a slow strobe could allow a suspect to actually move his hands undetected. The effect must be sort of like an old movie where the "flicker" of each slow moving frame and border makes what you are seeing look like a series of still images.

- Tim
 

kmorar556

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Jan 20, 2013
Messages
78
Thank you for the GREAT information!

I've really learned alot! I just started in the Law Enforcement field and information like this really helps. Im sure going to pass along this useful information to other officers I know. THANKS AGAIN!!!
 

Grizzlyb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
402
Location
Amsterdam
For those among us that like to see things,
I'll try to place the article in a visual perspective:

TDL20%20mod3-M.jpg



Not only usable as a dedicated TL, in the holster it can be turned 360 degrees.
Photo with TL turned sideways,

IMG_9819-M.jpg


Or up, so you also have a ceiling bounce and an easy work light.

CIMG3392-M.jpg


We also made some video presentations, but the 20hz strobe is hard to get on camera, so we could not use that. (on a CMOS camera with 24fps the Strobe is not right)
 

SeamusORiley

Enlightened
Joined
Dec 1, 2012
Messages
444
Informative and interesting. I echo your English language usage compliments. Thank you for taking the time to post.
 

mcnair55

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Oct 27, 2009
Messages
4,448
Location
North Wales UK
I am really pleased you have posted this,we have all read rubbish about strobes by many armchair experts but coming from someone in the trade so to speak means a lot more.

+1 to be made a sticky.
 

sinnyc

Newly Enlightened
Joined
Jan 25, 2013
Messages
161
What a cool holster. Is it a specially built item or something available to the general public?
 

dano

Flashlight Enthusiast
Joined
Aug 11, 2000
Messages
3,855
Location
cali.
Interesting, but anecdotal. No mention of the first strobing light (Gladius, intro'd in 2005) or initial use doctrine from Strategos? I'd recommend Ken J. Good's book: "A Law Enforcement Officer's Guide To: the Strategies Of Low-Light Engagements." ISBN-10: 1424309131.
 

Grizzlyb

Enlightened
Joined
Aug 14, 2011
Messages
402
Location
Amsterdam
Which ESP holster is that? :) which type/number?
LHU 14-35. It is for sale to public, but probably hard to get in the US.

Dano,

A few years back I had a peak in that so called Low/light bible, the Strategies Of Low-Light Engagements.
Our Academy library is substantial.
To be exact, Ken J. Good was not the first, in 1999 there already was a guy named Andy Stanford he was a tactical trainer and wrote a book about fighting in low/light combat.
He did include a good section about hand to hand combat with the tactical use of handheld lights. (But to my liking he was a little to much focused on 1 brand)
He included most of the Flashlight technics (Harries, Rogers, Kellers, over-under, neckindex cigar etc., that Ken also reffered to in his book.
From what I remember the book Ken wrote is 99% about firearms and it came on the market in 2006 or 2007. I can't remember he talked about research on the frequencies of strobe, or designing dedicated TL for police use, but You can maybe correct me on that.

Since then a lot is technically improved, much higher lumens and a better understanding about strobe.
And about the Gladius that "invented" the strobe,
It was never our intention to do research on who invented what and who wrote the first book about it.

We started this research mainly for hand to hand combat situations, because since 2007 the technic of our hand held lights was developing rapidly.
We needed to adept those newer possibility's in our trainings. Did we do this alone? no, we even invited 2 FBI trainers for a week, to learn from there findings and teach them ours.

That said,
There are lots of private companies that give very good trainings and make their living from it.

But the fact alone that company's like Strategos make money on selling Gladius lights and use them for training, tells me enough about their technical and tactical innovation. Maybe their research on tactical strobes was based on their own observations and experience? and not that extensive in a broader field in hand to hand unarmed combat?
BTW, Ken is a professional and from what I hear a very nice person. He was representative/ trainer for the SureFire Institute AND started the Strategos comp., but what goes for Gladius goes for SF,
Then again, my remark about Stratos and SF is just an observation and an opinion on my side.

And I don't mean to say, that Gladius or SF are not making beatiful and very good lights, they do.
They just don't build the lights we need....jet.
 
Last edited:
Top