They come in many names - telescopic, collapsible, expandable and, more recently in some police circles, as RCBs (Rapid Containment Batons). Expandable police batons are also known by their brand names – ASP (which has emerged as a genericized term for the weapon), Cosco, Winchester/Peacekeeper and the Monadnock Autolock.
A typical expandable baton is composed of three sections – the top two smaller shafts collapse inside the larger, main shaft rendering it compact in size. At the flick of the wrist the baton is quickly deployed with the shafts locking into each other expanding its size to nearly three times its collapsed length.
Expandable batons, which vary between 16 to 32 inches in length, are usually made of steel but some are made of lightweight alloys making them more convenient to carry.
Accounts vary as to their history, with one writer saying expandable batons trace their roots to Ireland in the 1960s when gangs discovered car radio antennas were useful as weapons. The general perception, however, is that expandable batons evolved from the traditional police baton. Law enforcement departments found RCBs to be more convenient to carry and appear less menacing to the public compared to their traditional counterparts.
Law enforcement agencies also noted other benefits of these batons:
Police departments and security agencies found use in telescopic batons in that they fill the link between using one's empty hands and resorting to lethal force.
To maximize their utility, most police and self-defense experts recommend proper training in the use of these non-lethal weapons. Just as any hand-held weapon, knowing when, where and how to strike is vital when using the expandable baton.
Many instructors recommend aiming for the bony areas of the body – the wrist, elbow, collarbone, ribs, head and knee. Muscle strikes will cause pain, but not nearly as incapacitating as bone strikes. Legally, however, it should be noted that head, neck or spine strikes are generally considered probable lethal force.
Civilians also face limitations in their use of this weapon. In all states it is illegal to conceal carry an expandable baton without a permit. A small number of states allow one to carry on the condition that it is not concealed. In some states, however, it is illegal to carry a baton at all. Civilians who wish to purchase these products are advised to first check with their local laws.
By Daryl Taylor