As security management executives, it is essential for us to supply our front line security officers with the equipment they need to do their important job in a proper, professional and safe manner. To that end, I will review with you some of the newer products on the market in such categories as flashlights, whistles, gloves, duty belts, lightbars and body armor.

Like all vocations, the array of products available to us seems to get more complex and varied everyday. Therefore, the following is a general, non-exhaustive, review of some items currently on the market, and should be used by you as a starting point for your own equipment search and evaluation.

What's New in Flashlights?

I think we would all agree that a proper flashlight is one of the most important tools available to the security officer. I remember in the late 1980's when I started out as a reserve law Enforcement Officer I used to carry a heavy, foot-long aluminum flashlight. It worked great, but I can still remember the banging of it against my leg during my foot pursuits.

Fortunately, flashlight technology has come a long way during the last decade.

Just take a look at some of these modern flashlights available to us. An outstanding example of these new generation flashlights is the Stinger made by Streamlight, Norristown, Penn. The basic Stinger is just over 7 inches long and weighs only 10 ounces...but it really packs a powerful light punch of 15,000 candlepower. Plus it has a constant burn time of about 1 hour, and it can be recharged up to 1000 times. It can be carried on your officer's duty belt in a lightweight holder. That way, the flashlight is always available for an unexpected emergency, such as a power outage. I have personally used the Stinger for the last two years, and I have found it to be an overall top-notch product.

Another major line of compact, powerful flashlights is SureFire, Fountain Valley, Calif. Many of my law enforcement friends just love the SureFire line. The SureFire family features very small (some of their flashlights are under 5 inches long), but powerful lights that too can be easily carried by your security officers at all times.

A quick flashlight tip...I strongly suggest you carry these new technology mini-LED flashlights on your person. Two of the best are the ASP Sapphire Light, Appleton, Wis., and the Photon Micro-Light, Eugene, Ore. They both use lithium batteries and LED bulbs...and they are generally available for under twenty bucks each. These incredible personal lights create a brilliant light that is visible from about a mile away, yet they are so small they can be clipped to your keyring, belt or zipper.

What's New in Whistles? Yes, Whistles!

I think a whistle is one of the most important pieces of equipment a security officer can carry. A whistle might be considered low-tech and old-fashioned - but it is a proven security tool that can be used from everything from crime prevention to traffic control. That said, why not equip all your officers, for just a few dollars, with a really exceptional whistle.

My favorite whistle is the Fox 40, Niagara Falls, N.Y. They are loud, reliable and are made of a strong plastic. Another top whistle is the Lifesaver #1 Safety Whistle, Cameron Group, Bellingham, Wash., which was designed by search and rescue professionals, and it is loud-up to 118 dB.

Duty gloves?

A good pair of gloves could be your officer's best friend. Think about this for a moment. Imagine either walking or driving on patrol during a cold, wet night without them.

Today, you have many choices of excellent gloves. The best known brand of duty gloves is Hatch, Oxnard, Calif. They have an incredible line of duty gloves...everything from Kevlar and Spectra lined gloves, to Neoprene gloves, to even leather gloves that are designed to help protect against liquid blood borne pathogens. It is important for you, as a security manager, to select the best duty gloves that will protect your officers against the challenges they may reasonably face while on patrol.

Exam Gloves and CPR Masks...Protection for Your Officers

In addition to duty gloves, I believe it is vital that you provide your security officers with quality exam gloves and CPR barriers, along with the proper training in CPR, first responder and other related areas as needed.

Lightbars...first Halogen, then LED.The newest lightbar technology is LEDs. Starting this year and beyond, you will start to see more and more lightbars using only LEDs or enhancing the current halogen and strobe models with LEDs. Why?

The reasons for using LEDs in lightbars are many. For example LEDs have a very long life...up to an amazing 100,000 hours of operation. LEDs produce more light output with a lower amp draw (as compared to other types of lightbars), yet offer great distance visibility and produce a very low heat. Most major lightbar manufacturers, such as Whelan, Chester, Conn., Code 3 USA, Alhambra, Calif., Federal Signal, Oak Brook, Ill., and 911-EP, St. Cloud, Minn., offer, or will soon offer, many different types of LED lightbars in various styles and designs.

If your security officers use their lightbars on a continuous basis, you may want to take a closer look at this new LED lightbar technology.

Duty Belts...So What's New?

It is my prediction that the old leather duty belt will soon go the way of the dinosaur. With such great new materials available to us, leather will have a hard time competing. Let's take a look at some duty belt examples.

Safarilan, Ontario, Calif., has its Nylok duty gear. Nylok is a 950 denier nylon construction that is scuff, nick, moisture, abrasion and mildew resistant, as well as soft and lightweight.

If you still like the look of leather...don't worry. Both Uncle Mike's Mirage, Oregon City, Ore., and Bianchi AccuMold Elite, Temecula, Cailf., have the traditional look of leather duty gear, but with the durability and lightness of nylon.

In addition to the duty belt, everything your officers might need to attach to their belt is also available in these high-tech materials. So if your officers need a keyring holder, keepers, baton holder, cuff case, flashlight holder or even a holster, there is no need to purchase any leather accessories.

Body Armor for Security Officers?

Today, I am seeing more and more security officers wearing concealable body armor while on duty. I think this is a superb trend in security officer safety.

With the latest body armor being thinner and lighter than ever before, it has become more practical and comfortable to wear a concealable vest under the uniform shirt in virtually all weather conditions.

Some of the leading makers of body armor include Safariland, Second Chance, Central Lake, Mich., U.S. Armor, Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Point Blank, Oakland Park, Fla., PACA, Norris, Tenn., and American Body Armor, Jacksonville, Fla., Please note that some manufacturers of body armor may only sell to law enforcement.

It was once common for body armor to use only Kevlar, but today, most advanced vests use a combination, or hybrid, of space-age ballistic materials such SpectraShield, GoldFlex and Zylon, in addition to new versions of Kevlar.

The vest I wear as a Reserve Law Enforcement Officer is a Safariland. I have worn a traditional-style vest for many years, but recently I upgraded to a new body armor by Safariland known as the Zero-G vest. For me, the Zero-G gives me better overall comfort, more coverage and an improved range of motion...and it looks like something RoboCop might wear!

However, the fit and feel of any body armor is a matter of personal preference. I suggest you research the many outstanding choices of vests available before deciding on which body armor is the best for your officers, carefully considering such issues as NIJ threat level, cost, weight, thinness and coverage needed.

Now What?

The information on these cutting-edge products for your front line security is merely a beginning for your own research factoring in your own specific needs and requirements. I hope I have inspired my fellow security professionals to make sure their officers always have the correct equipment to do their imperative duty in a professional, efficient and safe fashion.