SEATTLE -- Night sticks are important part of protection for police today. But way back in the days the baton was many officers first line of defense -- and part of great tradition for the Seattle Police Department. Officer Jim Ritter with the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum has much more in this "Flashback."
“When people think of police night sticks they think of self-defense tools or crowd-control devices. Even though that`s what we primarily use them for, there`s other uses for these historic devices you may not be aware of. Remember, back in the day we didn`t have tasers or pepper spray.” “Night sticks were initially carried by policemen during the hours of darkness. It`s important to remember that during the Victorian era, it was not appropriate for any police officer to wear any equipment outside their coat. Walking the beat was often a long and isolating task. Officers used this time to hone their skills with their sticks by practicing spinning techniques that would not only entertain the public, but would also serve as a weapon criminals not to fight the officer.” “The sticks come in all different shapes and sizes. From your standard utility sticks, to riot control batons, to ceremonial sticks with fancy tassels the officers would use during parades, ceremonies, and the police ball.” “They were also used as rewards. One Seattle police stick was issued during 1923 to the winner of the tug-o-war team. The stick is beautifully made, highly polished, and has solid gold inlay on both tips and the middle. It would have a hand-engraved name of the team that won the tug-o-war competition back in the day.” “One of my favorite sticks in the entire police museum is a standard club that an officer customized while he was working the Longshoreman’s Strike of 1934. The club has a checkerboard pattern the officer carved by hand. It had three sailing schooners in Seattle`s harbor during the time. You had the officers badge with the badge number, and my favorite is on the back. It`s got a picture of Mickey Mouse carrying a police club and wearing a police badge. Mickey Mouse was introduced in the late 1920`s and this was a very important symbol for this officer back in the day.” “Seeing police officers today walking their beat, twirling their batons, gives many of our older citizens pause to reflect back to a very different era where old-time police traditions garnered respect and a feeling of safety.” “That`s the way it was. I`m Officer Jim Ritter and this is `Flashback.'"