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Antique police batons?

Discussion in 'Non-Firearm Weapons' started by Owen Sparks, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Well-Known Member

    I do just that with my canes. You never know which end you might need to strike a blow with.
  2. Fred Fuller

    Fred Fuller Moderator Emeritus

    Speaking of espantoons - not exactly 'new' news, but...

    There are photos at the link...

    OCTOBER 31, 2008
    The Espantoon

    There has been great response to my postings and those of the Baltimore Sun's Copy Desk Chief John E. McIntyre on old police terms, cliches and the differences in cop lingo between Baltimore and New York.

    One reader reminded me of a New York term I had all but forgotten: "On the job."

    Several readers have commented on the Espantoon -- defined in Webster's Third Edition: "In Baltimore, a policeman's stick" -- and one asked for a picture of one. Here are a couple by Sun photographer Amy Davis shot back in 2000 when then Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris reversed a ban and allowed officers to once again carry the sticks. Tradition returned.

    Here is "Nightstick Joe" making an Espantoon in the basement of his Federal Hill rowhouse in 2000, and another of him outside with the stick.

    What follows is the complete story published on Sept. 23, 2000 that I wrote on the return of the Espantoon. I've been warned against posting long takes from old stories, but so many want to know the history I think some of you might be interested:

    By Peter Hermann

    Nightstick Joe is back in business.

    To the delight of tradition-minded Baltimore police officers, the city's new commissioner agreed yesterday to allow his troops to carry the once-banned espantoon, a wooden nightstick with an ornately tooled handle and a long leather strap for twirling.

    Joseph Hlafka, who retired last year after three decades as an officer on the force and is best known by his nickname earned for turning out the sticks on his basement lathe, will once again see his handiwork being used by officers patrolling city streets.

    Orders for the $30 sticks are coming in. A local police supply store has ordered three dozen to boost its stock. Commissioner Edward T. Norris bought five. Young officers who have never seen one are calling with questions.

    "They want to know how to twirl it," Hlafka said.

    Before Norris arrived from New York in January, he had never heard of an "espantoon." He knew the generic "baton," "nightstick" and "billy club," and was well acquainted with New York's technical "PR-24."

    He challenged his command staff to prove the term belongs solely to Mobtown. And there, in Webster's Third Edition: "Espantoon, Baltimore, a policeman's club."

    Norris signed the order yesterday, and the espantoon once again became a sanctioned, but optional, piece of police equipment.

    "When I found out what they meant to the rank and file, I said, `Bring them back,'" said Norris, who is trying to boost morale. "It is a tremendous part of the history of this Police Department."

    Hlafka is delighted. When the sticks were barred in 1994 by a commissioner who didn't like them, his production dropped from about 70 a month to 30, with most of them going to officers in departments across the country and collectors.

    They are now made from blocks of Bubinga, a hardwood imported from South Africa that doesn't get brittle in cold weather. Hlafka whittles and sands the wood to remove visible blemishes on the sticks, which measure from 22 inches to 25 inches long.
  3. Deltaboy

    Deltaboy Well-Known Member

    That is a great story!
  4. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    I am thinking about having him make me a custom 28" stick with handle grooves on both ends.
  5. m6tlogistics

    m6tlogistics Member

  6. NightCtix

    NightCtix New Member

    Hello, I'm the new guy here. By some quirk of nature I have never found this site before today. I have not read every post here but read several then registered. I have been a Texas Peace Officer almost 40 years and have been collecting police "stuff" all those years. I have over 300 nightsticks, I recently sold a collection of 70 blackjacks, saps and such. I see most of the posts in this thread are several years old but I would be happy to discuss anything about sticks with anyone interested. I have several of the British Truncheons shown. I certainly don't know "everything" about sticks but I've learned a lot over the years. Part of my collection was used in "American Police Equipment" by Matthew Forte.
  7. Bikewer

    Bikewer Well-Known Member

    The local St. Louis Metro PD for many years issued a fairly short, heavy wooden nightstick, and many of the officers here used to twirl them as described.

    An interesting feature of the St. Louis model was a steel ferrule on the grip end.
    The purpose of this was so that pre-radio foot-beat coppers could whack the pavement with same to produce a loud, ringing distress call.
  8. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    I want to learn the baton dance that Bumper Morgan did.
  9. NightCtix

    NightCtix New Member

    Only other thing I wish I still had in my possession, is my old call box key

    I am near retirement with 40 yrs. police service. At the beginning of my career I was given a brass call box key by a family friend who was retiring and had carried it for 40 yrs. As a TX Deputy Sheriff I never used the key officially on a call box but I did carry the key on my key ring every day I ever worked on duty. About two years ago (2011) a small town in my county installed a new (and their only) traffic light. For whatever reason I tried the key on this modern traffic light control box and it fit. I'm not easily amazed but that was truly amazing, that a key 80+ yrs. old fit. I've since been curious of the history of the connection between the police call box and the traffic light control box. I guess it is somewhat obvious since a beat cop could access each of the boxes for official business but it is still a helluva coincidence I think.
  10. Bikewer

    Bikewer Well-Known Member

    Funny story about those old call boxes. My old lieutenant had been a young copper in St. Louis back before two-way radio and he broke in with his training officer using the call boxes.
    The guy would never let him call in, he'd always get out of the car and call in himself.
    My boss-to-be realized as well that the old guy also got progressively "lit" through the night.
    Sure enough... He had a bottle stashed in each call box.

    Ah, the good old days.
  11. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator

    *I still have my original issued stick, sap, and brass call box key.

    Man that was a long time ago, I have been off the job longer than I was on it.
  12. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

    I also have my old brass call box key, a straight stick and PR-24. We were never allowed saps or short batons. Nor were head shots authorized. Later we were instructed on how to use our flashlights as an weapon should there be no time to transition to the baton. That included head strikes. Any use of force had to be included in the report and had to be justified by the officer. The watch commander who approved the report had you make an entry into the use of force log at the station. Done properly, the paperwork could protect you in an excessice force investigation or complaint.
  13. joshk-k

    joshk-k Well-Known Member

    I have an old Portland Police baton that I bought from a former co-worker who's family was in the antiques business. It's two feet long, grooved handle at one end. I have the leather belt and holster for it too. It lives in the bottom drawer of my dresser and, in the middle of the night, would be more immedately accessible to me than any of my guns. Occasionally, I look from my kitchen window and see unaccompanied dogs in my yard. I bring that along when I go to chase them off.

    This weekend I got it out for a nine-year-old to use while we were stretching and drying an elk hide.

    I bought it as a defensive tool. I certainly wouldn't want to get cracked with it. I feel confident that I could break any bone I hit with it.

  14. Loc n Load

    Loc n Load Well-Known Member

    On the job in 75

    I started my career in 75 on a large metro dept. in Cal. We were issued 6" 38spl revolvers and a 26" hardwood baton.....when we went on shift that baton was a mandatory part of your gear.....later as a motor cop I carried a sap in a specially made sap pocket which put the sap about midway down my right leg.....where it was readily accessible.....later I was issued a PR-24 which was useful, but I missed my hardwood stick.....the plastic sticks had a tendency to curl if left on a hot car seat......plus they had a tendency to break in cold weather.....the hardwoods didn't. I have seen horse mounted riot police use hardwood staffs that looked like jousting poles....finished my career in 08 carrying an expandable baton.
  15. Ohio Deputy

    Ohio Deputy Member

    I had Elite Espantoons make one of thos for me out of lignum vitae. They are super nice.
  16. Ohio Deputy

    Ohio Deputy Member

    I would love to talk sticks or jacks with you. I have been looking for someone that might have a certain style of short billy that I've been wanting to have madeup.
  17. Ohio Deputy

    Ohio Deputy Member

    The Mullanphy Stick, those are still made. I will try to post some pics when I get time.
  18. gastong30

    gastong30 Member

    In the Louisville Slugger museum they have some batons that they madem in addition to baseball bats. IIRC they were from the 40's.
  19. Double_J

    Double_J Well-Known Member

    you guys are making me want to get a stick again. I had two of them when I was growing up, both from a local surplus store in town. I got pretty good with basic strikes (growing up with a younger brother helped a bunch), and some blocks.

    I guess I need to find a proper stick instructor now that I am old enough to know how to use one. I had a cheap collapsible baton when I did security years ago, and we got just enough training to "qualify" with it. That was mainly no striking to the head, strike to arms, and legs, and jab to stomach.

    I do love the stories and pics. of the old wood, they remind me of a time when police could be counted on to be fair and honest, not holier-than-thou like many I meet now-a-days.
  20. joeschmoe

    joeschmoe Well-Known Member

    The original British police batons were based on sailors "Belaying Pins". They are, still, used to hold ropes into a wooden rail. Sometimes made of brass. As old as sailing with ropes.

    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013

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