Since someone first broke off a tree branch for a staff, stick, or weapon, impact weapons have been used for protection, maintaining order, or creating mayhem. When the tree branch was too large, it was shortened to a more convenient club length and sometimes used as an item of status or decorated to denote tribes, associations, or events. When the simple club was not enough, weight was added in the form of stone or metal. Later it was specifically carved for the impact role with consideration given to different sizes, weights, materials, and designs to make the club or weapon more effective. Different designs were tried, including brass knuckles or leather covered “saps”. These are not used in modern police work because of the significant potential for causing severe injury.
The police baton, club, or impact weapon has also undergone changes using various woods, metal, leather covered products, and even made collapsible to make them easier to carry while maintaining their effectiveness. Officers are trained in the use of impact weapons and other less lethal techniques to take a suspect into custody or to defend the public and themselves. Many police batons are colored or painted to be additionally used in traffic direction and other uses. Some are also decorated as presentation pieces for retirees or dignitaries.
In the Museum display you will see representations of police batons from around the world as well as some of the dangerous, commercially available, or homemade weapons officers have faced.
The Straight Baton
From simple designs, cut from a piece of hardwood or to ornate designs used for show or presentation, the straight baton has been the most prevalent over the years.
Originally made of wood and later, plastic or metal, these batons were large and sometimes difficult to conveniently carry particularly in vehicles.
Side Handle Baton
Side Handle Baton
The side handle was used to improve control but it also proved to be a challenge in vehicles.
Compact, metal, telescoping baton which expands to the same length and effectiveness as the standard straight baton. A belt holster makes it easier to carry the baton in a vehicle.