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Basic police baton movement as first defense against assailant

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Published on Mar 1, 2010

Side-handle baton
A pair of tonfa

Side-handle batons (sometimes referred to as T-batons) are batons with a short side handle at a right angle to the shaft, about six inches from one end. The main shaft is typically 24 inches (61 cm) in length. They are derived from the tonfa, an Okinawan kobudō weapon, and are used with a similar technique (although Tonfas are usually used in pairs, whereas side-handle batons are not). The best-known example is the Monadnock PR-24, which has become a genericized trademark within the law enforcement and security communities for this type of product.

It can be held by: * One end, and the corner between the shaft and the handle used to catch a long swung blunt or sharp weapon. * The side handle, and the long shaft held against the hand and forearm to splint and shield the arm against an expected blow from an attacker.

Side-handle batons are made in both fixed and collapsible models, and may be constructed from a range of materials including wood, polycarbonate, epoxy, and aluminum.

Some side-handle batons are one-piece in design; the side-handle component and primary shaft are permanently fused together during manufacturing. One-piece designs are potentially stronger in design than two-piece designs, and have no risk of having a locking screw loosen from its threads.

Other side-handle batons are two-piece in design (common among cheaper makes); the side-handle component is screwed into primary shaft. The side handle may be removed from the shaft by the end-user, converting the side-handle into a straight baton. Users of two-piece side handle batons would be well-advised to apply a thread-locking compound to the side-handle screw to prevent loosening under use. It would also be prudent to occasionally check the tightness of that screw.

The advantages of a side-handle baton over a straight baton are numerous: * There are a far greater number of defensive techniques/maneuvers that may be used with the side-handle baton in contrast with the straight baton. * The side-handle component may aid in weapon retention, making it more difficult for a suspect to take the baton away from the officer in a struggle. * The side-handle component prevents the baton from rolling far away if inadvertently dropped, unlike a straight baton. * Subjectively, some officers may be able to deliver a strike of greater power with the side-handle baton (when used in conjunction with a "power stroke") over a straight baton. * Due to its design, a side handle baton is generally used in a more defensive and less offensive manner than a straight baton, and thus it is less likely for an officer to "instinctively" use a side-handle baton as a simple bludgeon and direct indiscriminate strikes against a suspect. Also, the typically defensive stance the side-handle baton is used with is generally believed to present a more community-friendly image than a straight baton.

Side-handle batons have a few disadvantages: * More training is required for an officer to fully utilize the potential of a side-handle baton compared to a straight baton. * The side-handle slightly increases overall weight and bulk of the baton compared to a straight baton of identical length. * When the side-handle baton is used as a simple bludgeon (without gripping the side-handle), it is less effective than a straight baton.

Side-handle batons have been involved in high-profile incidents of alleged police brutality, such as in New Zealand's 1981 Springbok Tour[4][5] and the Rodney King beating.

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