After reading Trigger Finger's thread on the use of the revolver for police work, I wanted to ask the readership here for their experiences with impact tools over the years, specifically nightsticks. When I started out, the older officers often had a short, hard-rubber club they carried in the sap pocket on the leg seam of their uniform trousers. They referred to it as a "day billy", harkening back to a time when the day shift on a police department was a fairly quiet affair. When the sun went down and the crazies came out, however, they parked the day billy and picked up a "night stick". Most of us also carried a slap-jack, or "convoy" blackjack tucked in a pocket in case we were inadvertently caught somewhere without a stick. Like in a diner during a meal break, or at turn-key downtown. You were expected to always use an impact tool. If you hurt your hand from punching someone, and had to go off on injured status, you were forcing someone else to leave their job to cover your beat. Getting injured legitimately was expected, but getting hurt foolishly was considered to be bad form. Being an avid law enforcement history buff, I learned over my 38 year career that there often is a lot of tradition, and a lot of really fun stories, attached to the various styles and configurations of nightsticks and billies used by the different agencies across this country. I've managed to collect quite a number of 'signature' sticks from various LE departments while I was on the job. It's hard for me now to pick one of them up, and heft it in my hand, and not recall the first time I stepped out of a cruiser at a disturbance call, my new gunbelt creaking stiffly, and remember the first time anyone ever came up to me and said, "There, Officer...it's that blue house with the chain link fence". In time, I got to visit LE agencies in other parts of the country and was always fascinated by their impact weapons, and the local history attached to them. Sometimes it involved the type of nightstick issued at an agency. Like the espantoon used by the coppers at Baltimore PD. If you aren't aware of it, the espantoon outwardly looks like a standard old-style nightstick. However, it was modified slightly in shape and the design of its leather thong and held in the opposite way a normal nightstick was held. That is, you conked miscreants with what most of us would identify as the knurled "handle" end of the stick, not the "barrel" end. I've heard a couple of different stories as to why the espantoon is employed that way, and how it came by its name. I'm not sure anyone knows for sure, but it's a neat story. Contrast that with the lance-like 26-inch "koga" style nightsticks that gained favor on the west coast in the 1970's, supplanting the older style nightsticks with the leather thong that beat cops had used for years. The trim, unadorned "koga" stick represented a formalized system of close quarters hand-to-hand control over out-of-control trouble makers. The first real martial arts based system of stick use that I recall being taught to street cops in this country. Most of us had only been taught a few choke holds and come-alongs at the academy, along with hours of striking and short-sticking the heavy bag at the gym. Give a determined road-dog copper a dynawood koga-style nightstick, and a modicum of training, and you couldn't find anyone in the county who could whip him in a fight. At a lot of police departments, either the agency issued a cheap POS nightstick, or it required each officer to procure his own "knocker". If you poke around in the history of those departments, you'll generally come upon the name of one or two officers who, as a side-line back in the day, turned out high quality nightsticks and made a few bucks selling them to everyone. The makers didn't charge much for a nightstick because their brother officers couldn't afford much on the skinny salaries they made. These were sticks that had an identifiable style of manufacture that soon became the signature tool of that agency, often nearly as identifiable as the agency's badge or shoulder emblem. The stick makers' names are all but lost in the mists of time now. Names like Tony Barsotti at San Francisco PD, Ernie Porter at Cincinnati PD, or Joe Hlafka at Baltimore. You can spot those sticks by their contours just as sure as if the maker's mark had been burned into the wood. Frankly, I've always thought the real advantage to working in uniform was that you could nonchalantly carry a real club when you were in public and on a job, and no one gave you a second glance. The old cops told me to "take his wind, or take his wheels" when fighting a high-end resister, and I quickly learned the effectiveness of a short-stick jab to the solar plexus, a full-power smash to the short ribs, or well centered strike at the back of the thigh or calf muscle. The idea was to debilitate and wear down a resister, bring him back under control and get him cuffed up. "Don't cripple him, if you don't have to", one old timer told me, "Just take the starch out of him and bring him in". Damned if it didn't work as well, or better, than anything invented since. That's what the nightstick represented then. Carried idly in your hand, twirled at the end of a leather thong, or dangling from a gunbelt, it was the visible symbol of the restrained presence that characterizes the American police officer. I know that when I started out some of the old sergeants actually discouraged anyone from wearing a baton ring on your gunbelt. They believed that stick should always be in your hand, or tucked under your arm as you scribbled in your notebook. I rebelled, being a practical sort, and started wearing a baton ring as soon as I got off probation in the spring of 1972. Then, as now, there was a lot of anarchist sentiment in the country and assaults on LEO's were high. Having my stick in a ring on my belt cut down on the chances of some chud getting it and getting himself shot for his efforts. You remember what a chud is, right? A "citizen having urban difficulties"? In time I tried using nightsticks made of polycarbonate plastics, even briefly tried one made out of aluminum. The only one that felt good in my hands was an 18-inch-long "billy" made by Monadnock that I bought about 30 years ago. It had a slightly oversized grip which fit nicely in my oversized hands and was marketed as the "Tuff Boy" model. It sure lived up to its name. It didn't warp out of shape if you left it locked in the car during the summer, was fast-handling and darn near stout enough to hammer fence posts into the ground. But, being a short "billy", it was never as versatile as the 24 or 26-inch hardwood nightsticks were. Anyway, I collect sticks and stories. If you have one, I'd sure like to hear about it. Any "El Kabong" stories will not be reported...however they will be graded. Wanna kill these ads? We can help!