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by Peter Moskos

August 12, 2016

Baton Question

(Nothing to to with the DOJ's BPD report, just FYI)

I received a call from a deputy down in Louisiana.

He asked if I knew of any study looking at the effectiveness of various forms of baton. I do not. Does you? Leave a comment or, should you be deterred by that process, send me and email (my email address is toward the top of this page.)

Does anybody know of anything that compares the old-fashion straight wooden baton versus the asp versus the PR-24? (Extra credit if it includes the espantoon.)

I think the expandable baton took over much of policing because of little more than bad supervision ("I don't carry my baton," said too many cops), marketing, and a general cop of toys.

No baton was better than a Joe "Nightstick Joe" Hlafka espantoon.

I really wish I had one. One of my great regrets is not using an espantoon. I wasn't good enough at using one.


Andy D said...

I looked around and I cannot seem to find any research about that topic. Anecdotally no one in my department is willing to use their baton except to break a window or poke something because in words that I have heard from quite a number of coworkers: "It looks brutal and terrible on video."

Unknown said...

I did a little searching and could not find anything either. That being said, my rudimentary understanding of the laws of physics says that nightstick joe's sticks probably pack the most punch as far as pure striking force goes(disclaimer: I own one). If force =mass x acceleration then the espantoon reigns supreme, it is the heaviest stick out there.
I just wish I could master spinning the damn thing. The old school cops could make it look so easy. They made it look effortless and unintimidating, but nobody came near them when they were casually spinning it around. I just hit myself in the knees and nuts when I try to pull it off.

Moskos said...

I tried to master it. I couldn't master it. I'm sure I *could* have mastered it. But I didn't want to take a tool on the street I hadn't mastered and wasn't comfortable using. I really like the espantoon. I wish I had been able to master it. My knees and nuts say the same.

Moskos said...

Andy, I wrote this back in 2011:

The straight baton both looks better, in use, and is better. You strike two-handed with a straight baton. It is powerful. And you strike, generally, at the thigh. You strike one-handed with the expandable and you strike repeatedly in a downward motion. The head is too close. It will get hit. On video the expandable baton looks like Egyptian security repeatedly beating somebody in the head. It looks (and kind of is) brutal. Wack wack wack wack wack. And a cracked skull is not the goal.

With the straight baton you use it once and that is it. Threat is gone. In many ways the expandable is more about pain compliance, something best avoided both for tactical (it doesn't work that well) and PR (looks horrible) reasons. The straight baton better removes the threat. One good wack (I believe the technical term is "strike") in the leg and the person goes down. Game over. Time for coffee and paperwork.

Unknown said...

As a BPD officer, I carry my espantoon every time I step out of my car. It's either under my arm, in my baton ring, or held in my hand. Whenever I go on calls, it is not the gun that people look at. It's the espantoon. Nothing is more primal than a large stick whose purpose has been established since the dawn of human evolution.

Unknown said...

As a police officer in the Eastern district of Baltimore city I carried my night stick joe custom made for with me constantly I learned to twirl it expertly after a few hits in the head it takes practice but is very intriguing to watch a police officer that knows how to twirl a nightstick a Joe Hlafka nightstick, just an old fashion fun thing. Joe made mine of Bubinga. An African red wood. Never let me down. I used it to keep suspects at a safe distance and also a times throw it at a suspect feet to trip them up. Sometimes I got lucky. It worked perfectly. Thank u joe. Ur a legend. Daniel Shanahan

Unknown said...

Joe. Are you still out there. Any chance of buying one of ur sticks. Ty Danny Shanahan