One of the biggest issues facing law enforcement is the development of non-lethal measures when facing dangerous suspects. Although this issue has been highlighted in the past couple of years, the movement towards non-lethal devices has been decades in the making.

While TASERS are arguably the most well-known of non-lethal devices, the tactical flashlight is becoming more popular as well. Thanks to advances in technology that include the development of LCDs replacing incandescent bulbs, such flashlights now have the ability to use strobe lighting to disorient suspects.

What is a Strobe Light?

Strobe Function in a FlashlightThis is a light that flashes so quickly that it gives the appearance of freezing or staggering motion. Strobe lights were first developed after World War II and primarily used for photography. Over the years, the use of strobe lights has expanded to include the entertainment world, mostly stage shows. The perfection of the light emitting diode (LED) allowed for the practical use of strobes in flashlights.

In addition to their photographic and artistic use, it was observed that strobe lights have a very disorienting effect when flashed at a person. This is because it disrupts the images going from the eyes to the brain which causes confusion and disorientation. Thus, the disorienting strobe flashlight became a non-lethal weapon for self-defense purposes.

How Police Use Strobe Lights?

In law enforcement, the strobe flashlight for self-defense is used on potential suspects who may present a danger but are not lethally armed. The strobe light is disorienting to the person it is aimed at which makes it difficult for them to concentrate. Also, they avert their eyes away from the strobing effect. This means it is easier for the police to subdue successfully and control the suspect.

Another advantage is that the strobe light function can be used to attract attention.

Because of its distinctive appearance, a strobe light may draw the attention of other law enforcement agents in helicopters or police cars that are a considerable distance away.

There are limitations as the strobe effect does not work in bright daylight. This means you can only use this at night or in darkened environments. Still, the strobe is just one of the functions of a tactical flashlight. Other features include the standard light for navigating in shaded areas and a very bright, blinding light to blind a potential attacker temporarily.

This means that even if the law enforcement agent does not use strobe function, they may still use the other features of the tactical flashlight frequently.

Uses Outside of Law Enforcement

In addition to law enforcement, there are others who can take advantage of this particular function.

–    Military: A non-lethal means of dealing with a foe
–    Self-Defense: Used to disorient an attacker
–    Hikers, Campers, & Hunters: Can be used to attract attention at night or disorient dangerous animals

The tactical flashlight with strobe function provides a number of options for law enforcement. This is especially in terms of using a non-lethal means to disorient and subdue suspects safely.


My name is John Winger, I was born and raised in Virginia. I spent a good part of my early adult life in the US military, namely the Army and served in Iraq. I saw my fair share of combat missions and thanks to that experience I have a better understanding and appreciate for what my country means to me and the world.


  1. Hi
    I’m looking for vehicle mount with Pan Tilt. The serarch light needs to have strobe function as well as beam angle from 1deg to approx 40deg.
    I intend to mount a zoom camera too

  2. Hello,
    In 2004, I found that high intensity strobe lights would force wildlife to vacate attics. Squirrels, bobcats, opossums, roof rats, Norway rats, and raccoons leave within 3 days, taking babies with them. High Intensity Strobe Lights (ie: Evictor Strobe Lights) are not effective on bats.

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