Deputies try out new tool: Combo flashlight-pepper spray may save lives

by Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell, Whittier Daily News

PICO RIVERA, CA - Deputy Martin Ibarra felt pretty good as he finished up his first training session in the use of the Sheriff's Department's new pepper spray flashlight.

"It's perfect,' said Ibarra, who works at the sheriff's Pico Rivera Station, one of the first three stations to receive the new tool. "You have a flashlight on one end and a quick response with the pepper spray on the other. I will feel safer having this in my hand.'

The TigerLight Non-Lethal Defense System flashlight was approved for department use by the county Board of Supervisors this month in a six-month pilot program.

Deputies in Pico Rivera and the sheriff's Century and East Los Angeles stations are the first to be trained in their use, said Steve Whitmore, Sheriff's Department spokesman.

The pepper spray flashlights are like having two tools in one, he said.

"Deputies have previously carried flashlights and (pepper spray) canisters separately in their belts, so there are obvious benefits to this,' Whitmore said. "We just have to see how it all plays out and if we can move forward after six months and give them out to more deputies.'

TigerLight provided about 500 of the 23-ounce flashlights to the Sheriff's Department at no cost.

At a training session this week for Pico Rivera Station deputies, Sgt. John Anderson touted the tool's advantages.

"Once you get the hang of it, you will be able to utilize it in a split second and knock someone to the ground with a minimum amount of force,' Anderson said. "It's no different than any other type of pepper spray and will affect a person's eyesight and respiratory system.'

Station deputies will start using the flashlights in the field on Tuesday, said Anderson.

Over the next six-month appraisal period, deputies will be asked to complete a monthly report on their effectiveness, he added.

"We are always trying to find better weapons that allow us to arrest someone without the use of deadly force,' said Anderson. "Our hope is one will save a deputy's life and the board of supervisors will recognize the importance and purchase them for all the stations.'

Debbie Pfeiffer Trunnell can be reached at (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028, or by e-mail at

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