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Police Use of Baton Down Since Rodney King Incident 25 Years Ago

March 04, 2016  | 

When the video of Los Angeles police officers beating Rodney G. King shocked the world 25 years ago, the baton quickly became a symbol of law enforcement abuse, reports the Associated Press.

Back then, the 2-foot solid piece of aluminum was an essential tool in the police officer's arsenal. In 1990, Los Angeles police officers used their batons 741 times during force incidents, more than any other weapon.

But the infamous video marked the beginning of the end for the baton's reign. By 2015, LAPD officers used their batons just 54 times.

The baton offers a dramatic example of how police behavior has changed since the King beating. Authorities said that officers stopped using them for a variety of reasons: Changes in rules and training and the rise of other types of less-lethal weapons, as well as the lasting stigma from those grainy images.

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Hoshi @ 3/5/2016 7:20 AM

Our uniform pants came standard with narrow pockets just below the rear pockets. These were for saps and Billy clubs. We also had sap gloves (to protect our hands in a fight)These were in addition to the standard 26" night stick. Nightstick not baton, a baton was something little girls twirled in parades. A great addition is the expandable night stick. Snap that puppy open and it gets the crooks attention real quick.

Capt. Ahab @ 3/5/2016 10:36 AM

Few officers know the context of the King arrest. It happened after a wild high-speed chase down the 210 Fwy. King was a huge buffed up ex-con, full of meth pcp and alcohol. Officers used batons only after King was unaffected by Tasers and tossed off officers who attempted a tackle/pile on. The media chose only to play a short snippet, to avoid the context of King's earlier crazy threats and behavior, and to smear the police. (At the beginning, King made many threats, and obscene gestures and suggestions that a (female) officer "suck his black d..k" etc. Another little-known fact is that King had a passenger, who complied, and was released at the scene after a brief detention without incident. The media, especially the Los Angeles Times, and local Black agitators, deserve the blame for the riots. King was given a huge settlement by L.A., which he spent on drugs, trannie prostitutes and assorted stupidity. During that period he also had numerous run-ins involving violence and drugs.

Robert @ 3/6/2016 10:23 PM

Capt. Ahab.
You should tell the entire story:
--2 x LEOs were sent to jail for Federal Cival Rights violations / 2 were acquitted (after a state jury found all not guilty..that jury was from one of the most conservative areas of Los Angeles, Simi Valley vs a straight Los Angeles County Jury. 260 jurors were called..only 6 were AA; those were all excluded by defense pre-emp).
--In the Federal Case the jury was composed of 2 AA; even after defense challenges. In addition the feds put their best trial lawyer on the case...he now teaches at Cornell.
--Rodney King sued, and a Jury of citizens found that a preponderance of evidence showed his rights were violated. The jury did not award punitive damages..but 2 jurors thought that justice was not done.
--Later King was arrested for multiple drug / alcohol charges in the years that followed.
king was not a great citizen and was no hero...but he did not deserve what happened to him that night. And a jury showed that was true.

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