Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Impact Weapons, or Impact Tools, are hand-held weapons used by police.
In the Victorian era, police in London carried clubs about one foot long called billy-clubs or truncheons. The impact weapon has developed into several varieties available today. The basic impact weapon is a straight baton, approximately one and a quarter inches in diameter, and from eighteen to thirty-six inches long. It can be made from wood or a synthetic material. This is also called a nightstick. There is a variation that has a side handle perpendicular to the main baton, about six inches from the handle end. This is called a PR-24, and is almost identical to the martial-arts tonfa. The PR-24 has greater defensive capabilities than a nightstick.
Both batons and PR-24's are available in collapsible variants. The purpose of a collapsible baton is three-fold: first, it makes it easier for the officer to carry it, since when collapsed it is between six and ten inches long; secondly, it can be psychologically intimidating to an aggressive suspect to see and hear the baton being extended; thirdly, many police administrators think that it presents a more peaceful image to the general public than the regular baton.
Another variation is the sap, or blackjack. This is a lead weight with a spring-steel handle wrapped in leather. It ranges from six to fourteen inches long. A variation of the sap is the palm-sap — a lead weight carried in the palm and held in place with a cord or elastic band. A glove is usually worn over the palm-sap. The palm-sap is used by slapping a suspect.
Another impact weapon is the flashlight. The kel-light is a popular flashlight among police officers. It is rumoured that it was designed as an impact weapon first and a light source second.
Before the 1970s, the common practice was to "skull" a suspect — that is, to hit him on the head with the weapon. As a result of civil lawsuits and claims of police brutality, more training was given to officers, and now the primary targets are nerves such as the common peroneal nerve , or large muscles such as the quadriceps or biceps. If an impact weapon has to be used to deliver lethal force, parts of the body targetted can include the wrists, crotch, skull, and neck.
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