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Criminal Justice

Denver police chief orders review of gun-mounted flashlights after string of accidental shootings

Posted Mar 24, 2014 6:30 AM CDT
By Terry Carter

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Alarmed at a spate of accidental shootings by police officers, Denver’s chief of police has ordered more training and a review of policies for the use of gun-mounted flashlights, the Denver Post reports.

Typically, the flashlights are mounted under the gun barrel and the light beam is aimed where the weapon points; the problem arises when officers inadvertently pull the trigger instead of the light switch.

“It’s gotten to the point where I’m concerned about it,” Chief Robert White said. “We’re mandating additional training.”

There have been two accidental shootings by Denver police this month and five in just over a year. Two were directly attributed to the flashlight arrangement. In most, no one was shot, but a bystander was grazed earlier this month.

Elsewhere, at least two men have been shot by officers who were trying to turn on their flashlights. One, in Plano, Texas, was killed; a man in the Bronx, N.Y. was shot in the stomach and survived.

The gun-mounted flashlight was first used by Navy SEALS. “The difference between law enforcement and Navy SEALS is thousands of hours of training,” a firearms expert told the Post.

SureFire, the manufacturer of one such weapon-mounted flashlight, issued a written rebuttal to similar criticism, noting that more than 100,000 such lights are in circulation and that “only two safety-related incidents had been reported in 24 years.”

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