How the Rodney King beating ‘banished’ the baton from the LAPD

Richard Winton | LA Time
March 02, 2016

rodney king beating batonWhen 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.

The grainy black and white images showed a group of LAPD officers delivering 56 crunching blows to the African American motorist.

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.

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1 Comment for “How the Rodney King beating ‘banished’ the baton from the LAPD”

  1. dave

    First off- the Baton , known as the PR 24 is STILL available to the Los Angeles Police Dept. as well as many Police agencies. The training tactics used are still taught to officers and it is often deployed in crowd control.

    secondly, the PR 24 is NOT SOLID- it is made from hollow 6061 aircraft aluminum or a shatter resistant polymer. It is approximately 24-26 oz.

    The Baton itself was designed based on the Japanese Tonfa, and supposed to be used for striking, blocking and control holds. Piss poor adherence to proper training tactics , as well as smaller statured officers led to the use of the smaller ASP( collapsible ) baton.

    Striking and impact weapons continues to be a realistic less lethal part of a police officers tools.

    People need to stop this fantasy that police officers are kung fu masters who can disarm and stop people with soft words and slick weaponless techniques.

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