All you ever wanted to know about police flashlights

If you’re not a cop, you might wonder why it’s crucial for the police to have a spotlight on you at all times. Police officers don’t use regular kitchen torches but models that have to meet specific requirements. For instance, a police flashlight must be waterproof, tough and to have a long battery life. As you can see, not any tactical flashlight can work as a police flashlight. We’ll answer all (well, perhaps most) your questions about police flashlights right down below.

Why do cops carry flashlights?

Cops carry flashlights to disorient a criminal. When you turn on a light, the intruder can see you just the way you see him. A bright flashlight gives the cop an advantage and temporarily blinds a possible criminal.

What flashlights do police use?

Police officers typically use rechargeable and small flashlights. Streamlight Stinger DS LED HL and Streamlight Strion DS HL are popular amongst cops. Flashlights that come with high brightness beams that can light up a room and ensure ample beam range are highly reliable for cops.

Police professionals look for flashlights that are easy to keep on the belt, whether sitting down or walking. A size that can easily pin under the arm for effortless maneuverability is ideal for most cops.

In terms of bulbs, police officers prefer flashlights that use LED blue since it’s energy-efficient. In addition, LEDs don’t break easily, which is always a plus. As for power, the CR123A is very common for flashlights due to the amount of energy. The battery lasts for a long time and gives the lumens a cop needs on the field. Lithium-ion batteries are also dependable for flashlights for cops.

Cops need waterproof and rugged flashlights that can handle a beating and harsh weather conditions—models made of hard-anodized aluminum because they are robust and lightweight at the same time. As for the waterproof build, cops need it in flashlights. Models that withstand snow, rain, and elements make for the most dependable options.

Even if modern flashlights can come with bells and whistles, ease of use is always fundamental for police models. A cop needs a flashlight that ensures quick and effortless use, more than anything else.

Why do cops use red flashlights?

The most crucial reason for cops using red lights and not blue or white lights is that red lights won’t affect the cop’s night vision the way other colors will. Since they are often in life-threatening situations, they have to react quickly. Emergency responders such as cops need to go from inactive to active in a bling of an eye. They don’t have time to wait until their eyes adjust to the darkness, so using red flashlights saves them essential seconds. It can take around 30 minutes for the eyes to adjust to the darkness completely. Cops and other emergency responders don’t have that time on their hands nine times out of ten.

A red light is just enough to see by. Therefore, when the police officer stops a vehicle and asks to check out the driver’s license/another form of ID, the red light helps them see without damaging their night vision. Additionally, cops need to be sure that they won’t get suddenly blind when stepping out of their cars.

We should also highlight that red flashlights are less conspicuous than white lights. If a cop has to use light, he won’t be very visible when using a red light. With red flashlights, the cop can see out of the windows and what’s happening around the car.

Last but not least, red lighting isn’t as harsh as white light. It rather has a soothing effect and helps cops not to strain their eyes in the night shifts. Night shifts are problematic because sleeping habits are tricky to regulate. Blue and white light will make the adjustments complicated, so anything that can help is used. Red flashlights will help for sure.

How many lumens do police flashlights have?

Police flashlights typically have between 300 and 1,200 lumens and 4,000 to 65,000 candela. Back in the day, flashlights that emitted 100 lumens were considered to be bright enough. The degree of luminosity has changed a lot over the years, and police flashlights can deliver as much as 1,200 lumens. Some modern models come with a 100 watt light bulb and emit around 1,750 lumens.

If the budget is generous, you can buy flashlights that deliver an impressive 4,100 lumens—it’s the brightest and most powerful model. This sort of power can blind a person for a long time, even during the day.

On a side note, it’s dangerous to use such a powerful flashlight since even 60 lumens are enough to blind a person at night. Keep in mind that exposure to extreme brightness can harm the retina of the human eye forever.

What brand of flashlights does police use?

Streamlight flashlights are very common amongst police professionals. The models are rechargeable and have high brightness beams that ensure ample beam range and light up the room.

Some cops prefer Surefire flashlights, even if they’re more expensive than other models. These models give impressive brightness, but replacing a bulb can cost as much as a Maglite.

Fenix Flashlights are also popular with the police force. Cops can choose from many models, and Fenix flashlights are the go-to models for law enforcement, military groups, hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts. For instance, Fenix TK16 V2.0 is made to withstand the most dangerous condition and has terrific tactical abilities. Police professionals will appreciate the ultra-bright illumination, the robust build, and the impressively long-beam width.

What is the most popular police flashlight?

Streamlight Stinger DS LED HL and Streamlight Strion DS HL are some of the most popular police flashlights. They are both rechargeable and provide impressive brightness beams. They ensure ample beam ranges are strong enough to light up a room. It’s common for rechargeable flashlights to have DC charging option for effortless charging in the car.

Streamlight Stinger is the no.1 model for most police professionals because it’s made with virtually unbreakable polycarbonate. The lenses are shock and scratch-resistant, and the flashlight is effortless to operate; it only has an on/off switch. The model does come with three different settings: strobe, low brightness, and high brightness.

In addition, Streamlight Stinger is made with both LED technology and rechargeability, which gives the lowest-cost operation. The flashlight has a non-slip rubberized grip and anti-roll rubber ring. Its size is perfect for a straightforward process in a blink of an eye, which cops need!

Do police use Maglite?

For many years, police carried Maglite flashlights instead of batons. In 2004, the Los Angeles Police Commission decided to replace them with smaller models. Police representatives highlighted that flashlights are made to use for illumination and not as impact tools. Maglite flashlights were also employed as defensive weapons, especially in dark situations and at night. Police officers use Maglites during traffic stops and suspect confrontations. It’s because the beam can disorient the attacker, whereas the body can be swung as a baton for self-defense. Due to high criticism for cops using the Maglite flashlights as weapons, smaller and lighter flashlights are used today.

How do police hold flashlights?

Many police professionals hold the flashlight in a fist-up grasp and not in-palm-of-hand grip, like citizens. Also known as the “power position,” the particular grasp has numerous benefits. The main advantage is that it’s easy to shine the light downwards into a vehicle with the grip. Another benefit is that such a grip allows the cop to protect the head and neck if the suspect attempts to hit him.

Last but not least, it’s more effortless to use the flashlight like a club. The cop can bring the fist down in a hammer strike and hit the attacker with the flashlight’s head bezel. He can also use the barrel of the flashlight, similar to a baton.

Why do cops shine a flashlight in your eyes?

The main reason for cops to shine the flashlight in your eyes for a couple of seconds is to discourage you from harming him in any way. They only do it for a second and early in the stop so that you can recover before you continue your driving. The trick gives the cop some time to examine you and your vehicle’s interior and decide if there’s any hazard or not.

If you get out of the car suddenly and try to confront the cop aggressively, the chances are he will use the strobe mode. The mode can easily disable you due to the element of surprise and position of advantage. It’s better that you remain seated in your car, roll down the windows, turn on the light inside the car so that everything goes smoothly and safe for everyone.

Can you shine a flashlight back at a cop?

For one, it’s not illegal to shine a flashlight back at a cop. Sure, it depends a lot on the circumstances. Even if it’s not illegal, it’s not the smartest thing to do either. For example, if the police officers attempt to enter a building and give them a hand with lighting them up, you will do nothing but expose their position. The risk for you to be detained due to possible connection to the illegal events in the building is significant.

On the other hand, if the police officer walks up to your car and you shine the light in this face, he will believe that you attempt an assault and react accordingly. As we’ve mentioned before, that’s not the wisest thing to do. The situation is even more complicated if the cop has a body camera and can prove your actions.

Why do cops shine a spotlight in your mirror?

Cops shine a spotlight in your mirror to blind you, most of the time. They may also illuminate the driver from behind, which allows them to see motions within the stopped vehicle. When they shine the spotlight in your mirror, they can hide their movement as they’re approaching the stopped vehicle.

We have to remind you that cops who make a traffic stop don’t know who’s driving; it can be an old lady, two teenagers who have recently become drivers, or even an escaped prisoner who goes as far as possible from the jail. Cops performing a traffic stop are at risk, and blinding the drivers with the light is one way to control drivers’ movements.

Can police Shine a flashlight on camera?

Yes, it’s legal for police professionals to shine a light into a camera for no apparent reason. They can do it because no laws are forbidding the flashlight in cameras.

Regardless of what some people may think, it’s not the cops’ responsibility to make the career easier for journalists, semi-professional cop watchers, or political activists. As a citizen, you have the right to use your camera for anything happening in the public view. No laws are forbidding you from recording everything and everyone around your block. However, you will get in trouble when video recording the police officers in the field as you try to get involved in an incident. You will also be at risk if you move too close to the cops’ action and endanger their safety. For instance, a cop is struggling with a suspect, and you get your camera and try to record everything.

If, by all means, you are determined to record a police professional, you should keep your distance. You want to remain on the safe side and not become a threat to the police officer.


Robert Dwayne

Robert Dwayne

To say that I am an outdoors enthusiast is probably an understatement. I am hyper passionate about everything outdoors: hiking, survival, hunting. On this website I am sharing my stories and experiences, and I hope you'll find inspiration to take up your own adventures!