Hands-free light won’t be a weapon for inmates

The Liberator was first designed as a high-performance hands-free lighting solution for the military


By Erin Hicks
Corrections1 Associate Editor

Light isn't a luxury — in fact sometimes it can be the only thing preventing you from being attacked or seriously hurt.

Sometimes that means a flashlight is your best option, but in a correctional setting holding a flashlight can be dangerous, especially if you need to use your hands. Not only is it uncomfortable and unstable to hold the light in your armpit or in your mouth, it can be life-threatening if a violent inmate gets a hold of it.

Photo courtesy First-Light
Photo courtesy First-Light

That's why the folks at First-Light came up with a hands-free flashlight that's both powerful and has safety features built-in for responders. The light, called the Liberator, straps on to the hand and was designed as a high-performance lighting solution for the military and law enforcement officers, but is just starting to break into the Corrections world.

"I was introduced to this product overseas and saw an application for my guys working in corrections operations," said Sgm. Richard Gardner, who ran a detention operation in Iraq and now currently works as a sales account manager for First-Light. "If there's something in one of your hands you have to put it down in order to use both hands and that becomes a weapon for the inmate," he said.

Fully adjustable, the output is 120 lumens and the powerful light can run for 90 minutes without needing a battery change. Weighing just 7 ounces, the aluminum alloy light is also water resistant.

Additional features on the flashlight are the 180 degree rotation on the lens that lets you bend the light to the back and to the side, and the adjustable handle that can be loosened or tightened so it stays on your hand. If that sounds like it could be dangerous, guess again: the handle is breakaway and will come off if pulled on.

"There's a lot of thought that went into the design," said Gardner. "It's all about making sure someone doesn't get hurt. If [the handle] didn't break away, an officer could be dragged into a bad situation," he said.

Gardner said the product has been around for five years, but this year was the first time it's been introduced to the corrections audience. He showed off the Liberator at the North American Association of Wardens and Superintendents conference in Baton Rouge, La., and said the COs liked what they saw.

"I think whether in corrections or law enforcement, the hands-free application of the light is both foreign and very intriguing," he said. "At the end of the day, almost everyone who puts it on really likes that they have the ability of that hand available without putting the light down."

Gardner said women officers especially seem to be interested in the light because of their hand size. "Women have smaller hands, on average, and a traditional flashlight can be more cumbersome for them," he said. "This light can be adjusted so it hangs on a woman's hand comfortably."

Gardner said it's not hard for him to be enthusiastic about the product he sells. "Like our slogan says, ‘When your light depends on it'" said Gardner. "My life has depended on that light. I've walked a few miles with that thing in my hand."

The Liberator retails for $199 to $239.

First-Light USA also offers another hands-free flashlight called the Tomahawk that can be mounted on your uniform. Both lights can be purchased through their website.

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