Using the light of night to your advantage

Law enforcement is a 24/7 job that occurs in all weather and light conditions. Officers aren’t able to put off pursuing a suspect because it’s dark and raining outside; they have to find a way to persevere in the harsher and darker conditions. The FBI’s annual Law Enforcement Officers Killed/Assaulted (LEOKA) study consistently demonstrates that more deadly force encounters occur in low-light conditions than in daylight. has posted an article about the importance of training officers to be prepared for darker conditions. Here are the highlights.

Officers should have at least one easily-accessible flashlight on them at all times, even if they’re working day watch. Having one in the patrol car doesn’t help if the officer is inside a dark building.

Weapon-Mounted Lights
It’s becoming more common for patrol officers to have lights attached to their weapons. Major holster manufacturers have even designed holsters that accommodate light attachments due to the increase in mounted weapons. Just remember that weapons affixed with lights should not be used in place of a standard flashlight. You don’t want to be searching a room using a gun with a light mount only to flash upon a child.

Several reputable low-light courses, including a combination of lecture/theory and practical application, are offered nationally. One of the best practical training exercises is force-on-force. Take turns playing the “bad guy” and the “good guy.” Send the “good guy” to locate the “bad guy” who is secreted somewhere inside a building. The “winner” is the one who is best able to exploit the dark to their advantage.

Tactical Use of Light

Turn the flashlight into a strobe light: strategically hold the light at constantly changing heights, angles, and directions while varying the frequency of the strobe to make it nearly impossible to identify your location and proximity as you approach a subject.


Thermal imaging and night vision equipment are great tools to have in low-light environments and situations. The ability to see without being seen is a huge benefit to officer safety.