RCPD acquiring flashlight mounts after DOJ says 90% of officer-involved shootings occur in 'low light'

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Jul. 20—The Riley County Police Department plans to use a $24,567 federal grant to buy new flashlight mounts for firearms and holsters for police officers.

RCPD Director Dennis Butler said the U.S. Department of Justice reports about 90% of all officer-involved shootings occur in "low light conditions or situations," which is why RCPD wants to acquire the flashlights.

"For decades, forever, officers when they trained to use their firearm in low-light conditions, which we do on an annual basis, they typically have to hold their flashlight in another hand," Butler said. "Both of their hands are tied up while they're trying to see what's in the dark in a potentially lethal situation. So there's a trend in law enforcement to acquire these types of lighting systems to make it easier for the officers to focus on what they need to focus on, and not worry about holding a flashlight in one hand and their firearm in another."

On Monday, Butler spoke about the grant during a Riley County police board meeting. Members did not take any formal action as it was a discussion topic.

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant allocates funding to jurisdictions based on a formula of population and crime rate, Butler said.

"That's what we plan to do with those funds this year," he said.

Butler said these flashlight devices are made for handguns. This change will require new training for officers, Butler said.

"It's pretty substantial retraining because the dynamics of all of this are different," he said. "If you consider someone like me who's been in law enforcement a long time, I've trained for 40 years holding a flashlight a certain way, and now the training on holding that flashlight is different.

"I've tried that and I find it very difficult to shoot accurately by using the new technique, and so I still use the old technique. So that muscle memory and training is really hard to overcome if you've been doing it for a long time, so there will be retraining with the officers who acquire this flashlight to go on their weapon."

The flashlights are mounted underneath the barrel of the firearm with a button to turn it on and off, Butler said. The light also makes the gun heavier. The new holsters will accommodate the firearm with the new flashlight mount, Butler said.

Kurt Moldrup, RCPD assistant director, said officers will still be required to carry a regular flashlight.

"This just prevents them from having to pull out a flashlight and their handgun and having two things," Moldrup said. "It'll already be on their handgun."

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