Baltimore Protest Painting 72Courtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police
Digital Painting by Ken


Espantoon Info/History

Webster's Third Edition: defines an espantoon as follows; "An espantoon In Baltimore, a policeman's club" We would like to start out by saying we collect nightsticks, espantoons, batons, truncheons, Billy clubs etc. - If you have one for sale, or that you would like to donate, please, let us know as we are interested.  For what might be obvious reasons we particularly like the Baltimore espantoon. Aside from their being the stick carried by our brothers/sisters in law enforcement, they also show a progression not just in what we carried, or had made, but what the department had made for us and issued to us. That said, while we like Baltimore sticks, we collect all sticks, from any state in the US, to any country in the world.

We have always been serious about the Espantoon, and why Baltimore City Police are the only police department in the world that uses an espantoon? Also, why if a Baltimore County Officer and a Baltimore City Officer both have their sticks made by the same guy (let's say Nightstick Joe) why would one guy's stick is a baton or nightstick, and the other is an Espantoon? We talked to several old-timers over the years asking about the nomenclature of our Espantoon. We were told over and over, that the part that looks like the handle at the top is actually not the handle and is called the, "Barrel Head" next to that is the, "Thong Groove," the "Ring Stop" and the "Shaft." The word, "Barrel Head," might be a mispronunciation that if correctly pronounced, may have solved this riddle much earlier, but we worked with what we had! For years we knew the difference, we just couldn't find the words to explain it. That was until reading a newspaper article one night, when Ken read the question asked  by the reporter, it was a question that flipped the switch in Ken's mind, and once it was, it was like the old saying, "It couldn't be unseen!" Now it seems we had more ways to describe, or answer the question, So what was the 1970's newspaper man's question, he asked, "If a Baltimore City Officer gifts his Espantoon to a Baltimore County Officer, is it still an espantoon?" The answer in Ken's eyes was, No, and as odd as it may sound like so many police issues, it all comes down to training. For years when asked, what makes an Espantoon, an Espantoon, the satisfactory answer was, "Webster's 3rd edition dictionary says it is!" That has not been acceptable to us, so we dug further, reading every newspaper article, every general order and every policy. Doing so gave us what we think is the truest of answers. Baltimore turns a nightstick into an Espantoon because what looks like a "Handle" is the "Barrel Head," (most likely originally pronounced, "Burl Head") whereas everywhere else in the world the part that looks like a handle, is a handle, but in Baltimore City, we turn the stick around, and that handle looking part is the striking end. If a City and County Officer traded sticks, they would each take their new stick and use it according to their training, one having a nightstick with a handle, the other having an espantoon with a burl head. That, is what makes, a Nightstick, an Espantoon. What follows is some supporting documentation on the subject.  

As for the old answer to; What makes an espantoon? A name for a nightstick that is only used by the Baltimore police. — Here, is the old answer, from that pages of Webster's 3rd edition;


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Rattles and Billy ClubsRattle BPDi

Rattle/Ratchet and a Short Spontoon

Rattle circa 1862

These rattles were user by police and fire to signal coworkers. At the time they were made by violin makers. Watchmen carried these and a short Spontoon.

Rattle/Ratchet and a Short Spontoon

This daguerreotype features a bearded watchman with his wooden Rattle and a Spontoon or Club. He wore a bearskin coat, woolen gloves, and hat to protect himself from the cold nights of patrolling. He is seated next to his young son who also wore a heavy winter coat.

This is NOT Baltimore but the use of a Spontoon, could be a start to the origins of Espantoon, perhaps deriving from "A Spontoon" later becoming "A-Spontoon" then to one word "Aspontoon", and eventually spelled "Espantoon" there were newspaper articles with it spelled Aspontoon, Espontoon and Espantoon.

In an 1844 Sun paper article describing the Line of Duty Death Night Watchman Alexander McIntosh it says, “McIntosh was struck with a Spontoon, and it was later said, McIntosh lost his Spontoon," that later came to mind when he learned McIntosh was struck with a Spontoon.

Click HERE to Read Article 

Click HERE to Read Article 

Rattle BPDi

It All Started with a Police Rattle
Click HERE to Learn More

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We had a difficult time explaining what made an espantoon an espantoon, until reading that 1970's Sun Paper, newspaper article that asked, "If a Baltimore City officer gave his espantoon to a county officer, would it still be an espantoon?" This single question, sparked the answer. that we've known for years, but had trouble wording our answer into a reasonable explanation. Baltimore Police Department's General Orders, or what today is known as Baltimore Police "Policy," specifically, Policy number 1111, the Espantoon is defined as follows; A wooden Baton between 22-25 inches in length, with the striking end of the baton being between 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 inches in diameter, and the grip end being 1-3/8 inches in diameter. This means our nightstick has a, "Burl Head." But, what if the county officer simply turned his baton around around wouldn't that make it an espantoon, well in theory it would, except, in Baltimore City this can be done under Policy 1111, and remain within the officer's training, in the county the officer would be going against his, or her training and therefore, not only would it not be an espantoon, but the officer could be charged and lose his or her job. So part of it not just that we turn it around, it, is that it is within our agencies rules and our training that we use it this way, and that is what makes our baton an espantoon.

burrell BarrellWoodworkers that Turned Baltimore Espantoons
1937 / 2007

1937 / 1957 – Rev W. Gibbs McKenney - Made BPD Issue - Sold to Howard Uniform - 10,000 hickory 2,000 redwood over 20 yrs

1957 / 1977 – Rev. John D.  Longenecker - Made BPD Issue - Sold to Howard Uniform - 10,000 hickory 2,000 redwood over 20 yrs

1955 / 1979 – Carl Hagen - Made BPD Issue & his own Stick - Sold to Howard Uniform and Officers - 2.000 various wood types over 24 yrs

1974 / 1977 – Edward Bremer - Made his own Stick – Sold to Officers - 300 various wood types over 3 yrs

1977 / 2007 – P/O Joe Hlafka - Made his own Stick - Sold to Officers and Police Supply Shops - 10,000 various wood types over 30 yrs

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5,500-Year-Old Wooden Clubs Were Deadly Weapons

10 July 1979 Espantoon 72 Oldest known Club 
Carbon dated to 3530-3340 B.C.

Wood typically does not preserve well in the archaeological record, but the Thames beater was pulled out of the waterlogged soil on the north bank of the Thames River in the Chelsea area of London. It has been carbon dated to 3530-3340 B.C. and is now housed HERE in the Museum of London. Dyer described the club as a "Very badly made cricket bat," but much heavier at the tip.

Dyer enlisted a friend, a 30-year-old man in good health, to do the bashing, and told him to swing as hard as he could at the "skulls," as if he were in a battle for his life. The resulting fractures resembled injuries seen in the real Neolithic skulls. One fracture pattern closely matched a skull from the 5200 B.C. massacre site of Asparn Schletz in Austria, where archaeologists had previously speculated that wooden clubs might have been used as weapons. "We didn't go out aiming to replicate a particular injury, and when we got that fracture pattern, we were quite excited," Dyer said. "We knew right away that we had a match there."

1 black devider 800 8 7210 July 1979 Espantoon 72

Above is the article that best helped us put our answer into words about what makes an espantoon an espantoon. To read the full article, click on the pic above and it will take you to the article, you can click on it after it opens if you need to zoom in.

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Do our sticks measure up?

The Evening Sun Mon Jul 23 1956 espantoon72

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Espantoon 18 Feb 1937 Taxi Strike

Baltimore Sun, August 3, 1956 - As we know, our police are not striking with the "handle end"; they strike with the "barrel head" per their training, General Orders, and or Policy #1111. As you look through the photos on this page, you'll see that, as far back as we could find, officers carried their sticks in a way that would have them holding the handle end of the shaft, and swinging the "barrel head," often confused as the stick's "handle end" which demonstrates, this is how Baltimore police have always done this, and what makes a nightstick, an espantoon. 

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Espantoon 18 Feb 1937 Taxi Strike

18 Feb 1937 Taxi Strike
Notice in both places where we can see the espantoon, the officers are holding the Barrel Head out

IMG 6520

Courtesy Robert Oros
Nice espantoon picture showing a nice Baltimore Police Espantoon.
Also notice it is held at the shaft with the Barrel Head / Striking end out 1 black devider 800 8 72


The blue portion of the espantoon in the above illustration is most often mistaken as the handle of the stick, but is actually the striking end. It is called a, Barrel Head, this most likely comes as the result of an error in pronunciation, as in many blunt force weapons, the striking end is called a, "Burl Head."  As in the Tomahawk, and other such weapons the blunt end can either be added, or carved into the weapon. But here in Baltimore with years of mispronunciation and a slight southern drawl, Burl sounds more like, Barrel. So Burl Head, became Barrel Head. A funny thing to add to this is that shape of the Espantoon's burl head is also kind of shaped like a wine barrel, which added to the error. Now, in the way the JEEP a military vehicle that also has ties to Baltimore has a name that was derived from the letters G.P. for General Purpose. G.P. said often enough, and fast enough took on the sound of JEEP and long before it was manufactured and marketed as the JEEP it became JEEP and would have with or without the JEEP's we know been forever called a Jeep, likewise, the Burl Head on the striking end of our espantoon will now and forever be called a Barrel Head

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Teaching young officers how to spin the Espantoon
was Sgt Edwin Schillo

In the 1980s those that went through the police academy were lucky to have an instructor named Sgt Edwin Schillo, Sgt. Schillo took his own time during lunch breaks to teach any student that wanted to learn the art of spinning their Espantoon. I would bet for every stick Nightstick Joe Hlafka made during those days, Sgt Schillo showed them not just how to use it to defend themselves but also how to spin it at the end of its leather strap, also known as the thong. So, we give special thanks to Sgt Edwin Schillo for the time he took to keep and the art of spinning the Espantoon to so many young police.

The Baltimore Sun Sun Dec 7 1947 ESPANTOON 4 72


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An illustration with key to show the often mistaken handle, which is in fact the striking end.

Nomenclature to the Espantoon

What is an ESPANTOON

Nomenclature of the Espantoon

To be clear about the barrel-head and other parts of the espantoon we took a, Joseph "Nightstick Joe" Hlafka, espantoon and painted the various parts using a color key and the nomenclature with color key. Using BLUE for the barrel-head, or burl-head above we can see how the barrel-head could be confused for a handle. We can also see how some old-timers might think it resembles a wine barrel, an believed it could be why it was so named. When I was a young officer being told the parts, the old-timer actually said, "This is called the barrel head, if you look you can see it look like an old wine barrel." If we look at the part painted YELLOW we see what is known as the, "thong groove," this where we weave a leather tong, the groove serves to keep the leather strap/thong from slipping off the stick. Under the, thong groove, we see a part we have painted GREY this aside from being part of the, "thong groove," is known as the, "Ring stop," and is used to prevent the espantoon from sliding through the nightstick ring on an officers belt. Under the, "ring stop," is the "shaft, we left this stained the color of the stick, until we reach the , "Grip" on some sticks the grip, can be turned into the stick, but most often it is just the part of the stick we feel most comfortable catching it at. It could be balanced differently for everyone. In the picture we can see the Thong or strap, this too, is used differently, for me I like to loop it over my ring finger, I have seen some look it over their middle finger, other over their entire hand kind of around all fingers. So we all have to try it different ways to see what is best for us.

Looking at the Pictures below, we can see that by paying attention to what we are doing we can carry an espantoon in a way that keeps the barrel-head at our ready, Tucked under the weak-arm with the grip end extending out toward the officer's back, leaves the grip-end ready for the officer to grab/grip with his/her strong hand in the event that it might be needed. In photo A) we see it is in the officer's strong-hand, with the thong over a finger of the strong hand, if needed, he could turn his hand downward, allowing the stick to slide out under its own weight until it is stopped by the strap. Which would put the stick in his hand by the grip-end with the striking-end out, and at the ready. Picture B) is as described above, tucked under the weak-arm, ready to be grabbed with the strong-hand at the grip-end, which would leave the striking-end again, at the ready. Pictures C) and D) are similar in that the stick is held in the strong-hand, with the thong over a finger, and the stick held at the halfway point, or so, with the striking-end pointing forward, allowing the officer to simply loosen their grip while the stick slides forward until the thong stops it from sliding, and the stick would be ready for use. The important thing about picture D) is that the stick is behind the officer's back, so while he is ready, he is not doing anything that could be seen as a threatening move. We can now see why, these 4 pictures are a nice representation of how an officer can always be ready to protect himself, or the public, but not walk around in a way that might be seen as threatening. 

ESP means to Carry at the ready labled 72i

NOTE; We included a few Non-Baltimore Police pics just to see how other agencies carry their batons/nightsticks, etc. and how when you carry it the way we carry ours, before long when you see others carrying them upside down, and backward, it kind of jumps out to us as odd. This will provide a nice educational moment for those that might be interested and maybe a little humor for those that don't get it or understand.  

esp an toon EDITED

In the above picture the letter "A" is marking off the portion of the stick known as the barrel-head. Notice how much cleaner the middle of the barrel-head is when compared to the shaft, especially the part of the shaft we have marked with the letter "B." The section we have marked with the letter "C" has a line at the top and a line at the bottom, this area, we marked as area "C" has a lot of dirty hand marks, but it is not as dirty as the section we have marked with the letter "B." To us, this shows the Officer handled it often down around that section marked "B," which could be an indication that this Officer spun this stick as he walked his post. The constant catch and release of a stick while twirling it would put that portion of the stick in the hand most often. A stick with a light stain and no clear coat will absorb oil from the hands, then pick up and retain the most dirt.  Especially when there is no swivel, and the stick has to be caught and released more often to keep it going while preventing it from tangling up onto itself. Then if we look at the stick between the portion marked "C," we can see the stick was carried most likely in the strong-hand. Some guys learned to spin/twirl in their weak-hand, many just use their strong-hand. So this helps us not only date the stick, but also prove how it was handled, and every hand print strengthens our feelings that this was a Baltimore issued espantoon that was spun by a Baltimore officer, because other agencies do not allow an officer to carry and espantoon, the way a Baltimore police officer would.

Taking a look at the photo before this, the one where the Officer is seen in four variations, we'll see his hand is most often held in the center of the shaft. Now we have to add to the holding of the stick, at the shaft, to what happened when the stick is actually used, either to strike someone, to jab someone, or to pry their arm, perhaps, behind their back or from being wrapped around someone's neck or body. It also works to put someone in an Arm bar, and then to either walk them to the wagon, or to cuff them when they are resisting an officer's attempts to subdue them. As long as it is resisting with an intent to flee, rather than resisting while assaulting the Officer, determines how an officer reacts. This means an officer's actions, are often reactions driven by the subject being arrested.

We'll retake a look at these pics and others to see better what is meant by, "carried at the shaft." if we look a the four picture group, in particular, the second picture, the one marked with the letter "B," we'll see how the stick was most often tucked up under the Officer's weak-arm. Unlike the picture most guys saw, including myself, once the stick was tucked under the weak-arm, the strong-hand reaches up and across to hold the stick at that section earlier marked with the letter "C," in the "A, B, C' picture. My favorite picture is below showing an officer getting back into his car, in it we see his hand at the grip end of the shaft, and the barrel-head extended forward.


Courtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police

Looking at the back of the Officer closest to us, we can see where his Espantoon comes from under his arm confirming that even in the 1930s the "barrel head," end was the striking out. Showing that as far back as the 30's Officer held the stick by the shaft, striking with the Barrel Head.

Strike Baltimore 1930s 2

Courtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police

If we look closely at the officer furthest to the right, we can see he has his stick with the Barrel head out, this is how Ken carried it when he was at rest. This allowed him to simply tilt his hand forward allowing the stick to slide down until it was where he wanted it in his hand then grip it so it would be ready in the event someone was closing in on him or his partners. Most often the thong/strap would be looped over his ring finger so when it reached the end of the strap, it would stop and he tightened his grip to hold it at the perfect position for him. With the head forward, if he needed to, he could have quickly used it to jab a suspect that is closing in on him. Jabbing was less violent than Striking. But either striking or jabbing was determined by the actions of the suspect advancing in on an officer. They used to teach, "Reasonable and Prudent," what would a reasonable and prudent person do, and if a person decided they could attack an officer, then of course the officer had every right to defend himself. 

Striking street cleaners on West Lexington Street February 22 1941 Photo by Eli AdalmanCourtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police

Spinning espantoonCourtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police

Take a look at the officer in the bubble, from a 1941 photograph where he is spinning his espantoon on the end of the thong/strap, very nice picture giving the year of the pic it is nice to see it being done so long ago. Also, 1941 would have been long before a swivel was added to the strap/thong. This pic was taken by Eli Alaman

Strike Baltimore 1930s 3

Courtesy Eli Alaman
22 February 1941 Strike, Baltimore Police

Taking a look at the motor's officer walking toward the right side of the pic, he is holding the stick at the bottom of the shaft, with the barrel head out front and away from his hand, looking close you can see, he is one of the guys that carved the barrel head so it was no longer convex, a lot of guys would reshape their espantoon to make it unique to them.


Courtesy Robert Oros
Nice espantoon picture showing a nice Baltimore Police issued espantoon.
Looking more closely we can also see he had a swivel added to the thong.

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Just as the Espantoon wasn't only used for self defense
The Rattle wasn't only used for communication
Both The Espantoon and Rattle were used as Impact Weapons
and or for communicating with other officers in the area.

For more Click HERE or on the picture above

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ESP held in check dropped shadow 72

This is a most commonly used "Striking-position," it is also a catch, and or release position of holding the stick when spinning/twirling the espantoon. Notice in this picture that the officer is carrying his espantoon with the barrel head out. This practice has been the way Baltimore police have carried their sticks going back to the late 1700's and the early 1800s it is what makes a nightstick an espantoon. The espantoon, also known as a nightstick, is a traditional symbol of authority for Baltimore police officers. Its unique design with the barrel (or burl ) head carried outward is for self-defense and crowd control. Its uniqueness is believed to have originated here in the late 18th century and has been consistently followed ever since. With the barrel head facing outward, it allows for quick and effective strikes, or jabs while maintaining a non-threatening appearance. This longstanding practice showcases the rich history and traditions of the Baltimore police force. The distinctive carrying style has become an iconic feature of Baltimore's law enforcement history and also serves as a visual representation of their role in maintaining law and order while reflecting the city's deep-rooted connection to its policing heritage. 1 black devider 800 8 72

The Evening Sun Wed Jul 5 1961 pink ribbons and Espantoons 72

1861 Baltimore Police dressed in plain clothes and were distinguished by 
a pink ribbon on their left lapel, and an espantoon in their hands 


The Baltimore Sun Fri Jun 28 1861

This clipping was taken from a 28 June 1861 Sun paper. Notice it says
"New Police force was appointed in the several districts, under military authority..."  
"Newly appointed policemen were designated by a Pink Ribbon, and
they carried the usual Police Club" which in 
Baltimore is the Espantoon


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Reverend McKenney and Reverend Longenecker

This is one of the old Baltimore Police Department issued Espantoons made between 1937 and 1977 by either Rev W. Gibbs McKenney or Rev. John D. Longenecker. An interesting meeting occurred when after years of the elder reverend [McKenney] turning police sticks for Howard Uniform to be distributed to the men and women of the Baltimore Police Department. The reverend [McKenney] was set to retire, as such he listed his tools for sale in a local newspaper. By the time the second reverend [Longenecker] saw the listing, the tools, a wood lathe and some other woodworking tools, were gone. Reverend McKenney had decided to, and by then had already given his tools to a local boy’s school. However, he told the second reverend, who after a brief handshake, he knew was a woodworker, that if he was interested and could gather the necessary tools himself, he would help him get the contract to turn Espantoons for Howard Uniform Espantoon. Not long after that meeting, the two reverends were together with the senior reverend teaching the junior some of his tricks for turning the Baltimore Espantoon. There may be something to the number of grooves turned into the barrel head of the Baltimore espantoon, but we’ll cover that in another section. The younger reverend had been turning chair parts on a lathe since he was a small boy working at his family's furniture-making business in PA (it was his job to turn the rails for the chairs his father, and older brothers were making.) So, he picked up on Reverend McKenney’s pattern real fast, and best of all, he had a photographic memory, so he was able to turn them without a template. Well, I am told by a family member that he didn't use a template or pattern, but he did have one stick, the stick he got from Reverend McKenney hanging on a wall not far from his lathe, and all of the Longenecker, Espantoons, were identical and, pretty close to the same as the McKenney, Espantoon. If I remember correctly the second Reverend said, it took him 1 hour to do a stick at first, but by the time, he was ready to start production, he was able to turn them at the much faster rate of 3 to 4 of them, in that same hour.

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27 Mar 1995 copy 72

Click HERE or the above Article 27 Mar 1995 72 pt2

Click HERE or the above Article 

Sun Mon Mar 27 1995 copy 72

Here is who suggested doing away with the Slapjack but it was on
16 November 1994 that the department ended the authorized use of the Slapjack 

Jan 1995 newsleter

Click HERE or on the Pic above for Full Newsletter
Baltimore Police Newsletter
January 1995

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ESP means to Carry at the ready labled 72i

We have and will continue to see this picture on the site, look where the stick is most often held, and we'll see why the hand-prints are where they are, and how this is a Baltimore thing. Obviously this doesn't just go for this stick, go get your stick, or the next time you pick up a stick, at a flea market, or antique store, pick it up and look for these tell tail signs of where the officer's hands most often carried it. After all, no other agency, not only had their officers turn a nightstick around, and use the handle as the business end, but if we read our general orders we see several lines describing the various batons allowed in use by the department. When they describe the espantoon it is described as follows. espantoon — a wooden baton between 22-25 inches in length, with the striking end of the baton being between 1 1/2 - 1 3/4 inches in diameter, and the grip end being 1-3/8 inches in diameter. This baton has color restrictions and shall only be coated in an Oak, Ash, Maple, Hickory or Rosewood finish. Decorations are prohibited.


If we look close we can see where the hand most often held this stick
It is cleaner at the end of the shaft furthest away from the barrel head

NOTE: We are not saying we won't find marks where officers from other agencies didn't carry their batons at the shaft, what we are saying is, in most cases where the stick is not a straight stick, and does have a handle, the handle will not be as clean as the end opposite our Espantoon's barrel-head.

To better understand what makes an Espantoon, an Espantoon, we have to take into consideration, what is the different between, a nightstick carried in New York, Chicago, Philly or by any other police officer in any other police department anywhere in this country. Basically, other than Chicago that had a unique turning pattern to their baton’s handle, that could help identify it as a Chicago stick. Baltimore may not have a pattern for optional officer self purchased sticks, the issued sticks were the same design from 1937 to 1992. Before 1937, the sticks were not much different, the craftsmanship was slightly better looking. Put either the older versions or the more modern version on a table with other batons from around the world, and a Baltimore baton could easily be picked from the crowd of sticks.

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Below are Some Baltimore Police Issued Espantoons

Carl Hagen

Carl Hagen
Turned espantoons from 1955 to 19791 black devider 800 8 72


1920's Baltimore Police Issue

21317920 10211220883901382 1881911624495296007 n

Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker

Stick 1

Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker


Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker


Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker 


Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker 1 black devider 800 8 72

The Baltimore Sun Sun Dec 7 1947 72

Click HERE to see full size article 1 black devider 800 8 72


Courtesy David Eastman

Look at the officer's espantoon seen on the right side of this pic, and notice how it is carried, held in his right hand with the thong ran through his fingers, and the barrel head out as he is gripping it by the shaft of the espantoon. This pic is taken in the early 1900's but we can clearly see he carries it the way it is carried today, indicating the striking end back then, was as it was in the 1960's and 1970's when Ken's uncles walked a beat in Baltimore, and the 1980/90's when Ken walked a beat in Baltimore. The striking end in Baltimore would be considered the handle to all other jurisdictions, and if other departments used it the way Baltimore did, it was only Baltimore that had it in the officer's general orders that the striking end was the wider end of the baton, the handle in Baltimore is the thinner end, the end known here as the "Shaft."1 black devider 800 8 72 DSC5172

Issued Stick 1937 - 1977

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker - This has one edge shaved flat so it would stay in place without popping out every time we turn a sharp corner or hit a pothole. The flat spot helps keep it in place when it's forced between the dashboard padding and the transmission hump.


Issued Stick 1937 - 1977

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker - There was a time in the mid 50's that officers would shave the Barrel Head of their Espantoon
Taking it from convex to flat/straight then add or re-cut grooves in the new Barrelhead 

72 DSC5243

Issued Stick 1937 - 1977
Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker 

This is another case of someone attempting to straighten the convex, "Barrel-Head" 


Issued Stick 1987 

This was issued to me on 17 June 1987 when I was hired and sworn in


 Issued Stick 1937 - 1977

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker 


Issued Stick 1937 - 1977

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker 


Jim Brock - Perfection Collection

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker Model - Circa 2015 

 DSC5183 Non-Issue Stick 1937 - 1977

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Rev. John D. Longenecker


Carl Hagen turned sold through Howard Uniform circa 1965


Carl Hagen

This is an early Carl Hagen Stick, it came while he was still turning them to the size of an issue stick, and isn't too far off of the standard issue stick, he just added a few things to make it stand out from the issue stick, the barrel-head is a little over sized and it is turned from an oak. 


P/O Raymond Wheatley holding a Carl Hagen stick, notice how Carl rounded the tops of his sticks, this is a nice old stick. Also, notice how Officer Wheatley picked up a small child to help him better see a parade that he had attended, but couldn't enjoy over the crowd. Officer Wheatley not only gave the kid a lift, bought him a cup of soda too. 


Carl Hagen 1955 - 1979 

This is one of Carl's first unique designs, it was done solely by him and became a popular design from his sticks. In the next pic, we'll see Officer Ray Wheatley holding a Carl Hagen Espantoon, it is more of an issue cut, but with a modern (at the time) cut, the cut that ended up being refined into the sticks we saw turned by Ed Bremer and Joe Hlafka.


Jim Brock - Perfection Collection - Carl Hagen Model - Circa 2015


Jim Brock - Perfection Collection Thin Blue Line Stick - Carl Hagen Model - Circa 2015 


Prior to Issued Sticks 1954 - 1960

Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney & Carl Hagen - At some point when McKenney had retired from turning sticks, he had donated his lathe and tools to a boy's school out west, and before meeting Reverend Longenecker, McKenney he had met Carl Hagen and showed him how to turn sticks, for whatever reason, Carl turned some sticks for Howard Uniform, he just didn't get the 500+ stick a year contracts from Howard Uniform that the Reverends McKenney & Longenecker received.


Carl Hagen 1955 - 1979 


Jim Brock - Perfection Collection Lignum vitae #001 Stick

Lignum vitae is on top 10 lists of hardest woods depending on the list it is either 2nd or 4th One might be how dense the wood is, while the other might be
how dense the guy/gal is that is trying to spelling Lignum Vitae Joe Hlafka Model Circa 2015 


Ed Bremer - 1974 - 1977


Jim Brock - Edward Bremer Model - Circa 2015  


1977 - 2007 - P/O Joe Hlafka 


Joe Hlafka

1987 - I bought this from Joe Hlafka direct, apparently someone ordered it, paid half down and before it was done they found their stick and told Joe, they didn't need it anymore, could he sell it to someone for the remainder of the balance, I was the lucky guy that talked to Joe about a stick, and he gave me the stick for $12.00. I have replaced the thong twice, had it, "I say" stolen once, the guy that took it, called it, "found". How you can find an espantoon in the trunk of a patrol car, and not think it must belong to someone. Not to mention DRISCOLL is written around the stick in blue sharpie by the Ring Stop - Anyway, it is a 30 plus-year-old stick. BTW I stopped the kid as he was going out to his post, so I loan it to him for the shift, and told him to get it back to me, "in my hand," the next day. I couldn't send him on the streets without a stick.1 black devider 800 8 72


I Turned this Myself 

1990 - I put the extra groove on the shaft because after carrying it for a day or two I realized the stick felt good, weight was nice, but the shaft was too think to hold on while swinging it, So I taped the thong to the barrel-head with Duct tape, and put the stick back on the lathe and shaved a hand-grip in the shaft. After shaving the shaft to a comfortable grip, I was done, pulled the tape, and it was a spinner, or umm, I mean a winner, 1 black devider 800 8 72

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Irish Shillelagh

This is to point out the striking part of this weapon, that blunt looking rock, or fist shaped portion at the end of this weapon, and any blunt force weapon is called the "Burl-Head". On the Espantoon the blunt striking end resembles, and is often mistaken for the weapon's handle is called the "Barrel-Head." Most likely stemming from a misunderstanding caused by Baltimore's southern drawl, or bad "accent," causing a listener to misunderstand what a speaker may have said, Burl-head to thinking the speaker said, "Barrel-head." In 1987 when an old timer told me, he even pointed to the shape and, said, this is because this looks like an old wine barrel. Truth be told, it wasn't a barrel at all, it's a burl.1 black devider 800 8 72

Carl Hagen 1957 77s

Barrel Head

This is the Barrel-head of one of Carl Hagen's early sticks - This Rounded off top end was exclusive to Carl Hagen, and was found more on the West side of Baltimore than the East. The East-side Espantoons saw more of a two or three tiered layers each with a hard edge that sat atop the espantoon like a crown on top the barrel head end of the stick. If we look at Carl's earlier stuff, he had a two or three-tiered top edge also, but it wasn't a hard edge. Carl had a super soft, smooth transition going tier to tier on the barrel head.1 black devider 800 8 72

Ed Bremer 1974 77s

Barrel Head

This is the Barrel-head from one of Ed Bremer's early sticks, he put what he called a "Nib" on the top of all his Barrel head. Mr. Bremer felt he saved lives, both of Officers and Suspects because as he once said, "Nightsticks Save Lives, Preventing Officers from a need to escalate from hand-to-hand combat to the use of a firearm." The faster we can get a suspect into cuffs the safer it is for both the officer and the suspect. This stick is turned from Lignum vitae, a wood that was banned by the department as it was too heavy, hard and they felt could cause serious injury or death.

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The “Barrel Head” of Baltimore's Issued Espantoon 

Interesting Theory, in 2008 while researching Baltimore’s Espantoon, we were looking for the normal questions, like, why we called it an, Espantoon? Where did the word, Espantoon, come from? When did it start etc.? Etc. etc. etc…. Along the way other observations were made, like when we see a Chicago Nightstick, we know it is from Chicago on sight. The shape of the handle is cut in such a way that often even in the shadows of a picture, you can make out their handle cut, it is that unique.


This is a Chicago Stick
Notice the rings are on the top and bottom of the handle but skip the center
This pattern carries back as far as we can find in their nightsticks

Baltimore didn’t have such a design, if we go back far enough, we’ll see at one time we had as many as twenty, “ring grooves” on the barrel head, then later sometime during the time period that Reverend W. Gibbs McKenney was turning our sticks there was a change, at first it looked like he may had just made a simpler design, but it made me and some others that were helping with my research stop and wonder, were the near twenty ring grooves the same as the twenty points on the twenty point badge? Did each ring represent a ward in the city? When the good Reverend came along and made his design, did he reduce it to seven to represent the seven districts that protected the city at that time. We will never know, but it does give us something to think about.

Not long ago while watching re-runs of Ink Masters, I saw an episode in which they were drawing, and then tattooing the Statue of Liberty. One of the artists made what was said to have been a crucial error, he only drew six of the seven rays/spikes on the Statue of Liberty's crown. The other artists made a big deal, such a big deal that it seemed it was less than about detail, and more about symbology. So, I looked it up and found that according to the website of the National Park Service, the seven spikes on the Statue of Liberty's crown represent the seven seas, and the seven continents of the world.

This is one of Reverend McKenney's Espantoons Notice
the Barrel Head has Seven grooves. This pattern carries from the late 30's when
Rev McKenney turned them through 1977 while Rev Longenecker turned them
and on until 1996 when they were no longer issued by the department 

Could these seven grooves, in the design of our stick by Reverend McKenney have a similar meaning? In 1937, would he have given the seven spikes of the Statue of Liberty's crown any thought at all? I doubt it, so I asked myself again, if it is not due to the seven districts of police that served and protected the city of Baltimore at that time. Then we have to take into consideration Reverend McKenney, and his profession then ask ourselves, “could there be a religious link to the number seven?” To answer this, I looked up religious links to the number seven, where I found; the number seven has had significance in almost every major religion. In the Old Testament, the world was created in six days and God rested on the seventh, creating the basis of the seven-day-week we still use to this day. In the New Testament the number seven symbolizes the unity of the four corners of the earth with the Holy Trinity. The number seven is also featured in the Book of Revelation (seven churches, seven angels, seven seals, seven trumpets, and seven stars). The Koran speaks of seven heavens, and Muslim pilgrims walk around the Kaaba in Mecca (Islam’s most sacred site) seven times. In Hinduism there are seven higher worlds, and seven underworlds, and in Buddhism the newborn Buddha rises and takes seven steps. So, whatever gives us the most comfort, it could just be an easy design that helps the maker kick them out at a rate of four per hour, it could be one groove for each of the seven districts (ED, CD, NWD, ND, NED, SWD, SD) that served the city at the time. We didn’t have a SED until 1958/59 and WD was non-operational for a time being. So, it could have been that. But most likely given that for forty years from 1937 until 1977 our sticks were turned by two Reverends. First from 1937 until 1957 Rev W. Gibbs McKenney, made our BPD Issue Espantoons, then in 1957 when he retired from the business he donated his machines to a local boy’s school, shortly after he met and Rev. John D. Longenecker learning he was a woodworker, he agreed to train him and help get him the contract he was walking away from. From 1957 until 1977 Rev. John D. Longenecker turned our sticks using the design given to him from Rev McKenney. Over the course of 40 years between the two reverends a combined 20,000 hickory, and 4,000 Redwood Espantoons were turned. Their sticks were sold to Baltimore City Police, as well as several other jurisdictions and security companies.  More can be read elsewhere on this page about both Rev. W. Gibbs McKenney, and Rev. John D. Longenecker how they met and what they did.

Here we hope to just give us all a little something to think about as to why the design may have become what it did.


I purchased this stick from Joe personally and carried during my time in Patrol
If we count the grooves we see he also turned seven grooves, which was
kind of an  unwritten custom of our department's Espantoons. 

As an interesting side note, many of the guys that followed alongside Reverend Longenecker, like Carl Hagen who turned from 1955 to 1979, Edward Bremer turned out Espantoons from 1974 until 1977, and our own, Officer Joseph "Nightstick Joe" Hlafka who from 1977 until 2007 more often than not, turned seven grooves into the barrel heads of their sticks. There is nothing in writing to tell us why they did this, if it was for the reason the Statue of Liberty has seven spikes, because of the religious ties to the number seven, perhaps the reverends felt it would offer a kind of protection, or maybe it was just quicker and easier to turn seven simple grooves. We can pick whatever makes us feel better about the design, because until we can talk to a family member to see what they were told, we may never know. the good thing, I am friends with Joe's wife, and I was first contacted by Reverend Longenecker's stepson. So, we have a contact, and can look for family members of the others we know turned our Espantoons.

Our Espantoon Collection

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December 12, 1987

Revised / Reviewed - August 2002 Vol. 12, No. 10

ESPANTOON HISTORY The espantoon according to Webster’s Dictionary is: “in Baltimore; a policeman’s nightstick.” The term is a derivative of the word “Spontoon” that dates back to the weapon and symbol of authority the Officers of the Roman Legions carried.. In 1784 Baltimore appointed paid police officers. From that time until the middle 1960's when the department switched to motorized patrol units the sight of the officer “walking the beat” was a commonplace reassurance. One of the most unique elements of a foot patrol officer in any large East Coast American City was their ability to twirl the “nightstick” until it literally danced. Obviously then, as now, the espantoon is a defensive weapon. The purpose of twirling the espantoon was multifold. The days before the portable two-way radio, the officer was alone and the “twirling” created and protected a “personal zone.” Another benefit of twirling the espantoon was that a familiarity was gained with the “stick” that developed confidence carrying the espantoon. The espantoon was also used for communications. A rapid tapping of the espantoon signaled a warning to others or a call for help. A flip of the espantoon, falling free of the hand striking the concrete, created a unique “ring.” Even today foot patrol officers use this technique to signal each other. It is extremely effective on quiet nights. Even when “tapped” in a large crowd, usually another officer is the only one to notice. Training Guideline Vol. 12, No. 10 Page - 2 - Departmental regulations allow an officer to substitute a personally purchased espantoon for the one issued by the department, provided the substitute is similar in size, composition and design to the issued equipment. The departmental issued espantoon is 22" long by 1 1/4" in diameter and is solid wood. There is a handle on one end with a groove to attach a leather strap or thong. The thong extends from the groove to the bottom of the espantoon.

COME-ALONG AND HANDCUFFING ASSIST TECHNIQUE There are a variety of uses for the espantoon as a come-along or to assist in the handcuffing of an arrestee. Most are too complicated to describe briefly here. A key element to all of these techniques is for the officer to retain control of the espantoon at all times. The espantoon is primarily used as a lever to add power (torque) to the officers hand and arm movement. The speed of the top of the espantoon is essential. Bring the espantoon (with one hand) in a cocked position and strike forward in a slashing move. Make sure the wrist is snapped forward to accelerate the top two inches of the espantoon for maximum power. Do not snap back after impact. Follow through across your body. If a second immediate strike is required, deliver it in a back hand method, again snapping the wrist for maximum power.

JABBING AREAS AND TECHNIQUE To jab an assailant with the espantoon is an alternative method of stopping an assault to gain control. Jabbing is especially effective in close quarter confrontations such as a small hallway or in a large crowd. This would include any situation where “swinging” the espantoon would not be effective and/or would endanger others. The most effective target area for using a jab is the stomach area. A jab with the espantoon when carried in a single hand short reach position, is very effective against a sudden assault. A jab in the single hand long reach position has limited applications, such as keeping a subject or assailant at bay. The most effective jabbing technique is utilizing both hands. One hand close to the top of the espantoon while having the other hand at the bottom; gun away from the assailant. The technique is identical to using a bayonet on a rifle. Step forward to the assailant thrusting the end of the espantoon in the stomach area while lifting upwards. Both maneuvers are done with power. Training Guideline Vol. 12, No. 7 Page - 3 - Historically, most officers have made or purchased their own espantoons. While all are required to be made entirely of wood and similar to the size of the issued model, each one is unique. The variations of wood tones, size and shapes make them very personal. Often the same espantoon is carried for an entire career regardless of rank attained or duty assignments. The espantoon has sometimes become a family heirloom and passed on to younger generations of officers. The term “nightstick” was derived from the fact that officers were required to carry the espantoon during the “night-time” hours i.e.:4 x 12 and 12 x 8 shifts. It was optional during daylight hours. Police Officers are encouraged to have their espantoons with them whenever on duty. In the escalation of force, the use of espantoon is a step below the service revolver. The espantoon gives the officer the option and a greater degree of safety in the use of force. If the assailant is overpowering the officer’s attempt to defend himself, the espantoon can be utilized effectively to gain control. If the espantoon is left in the car or has otherwise been disregarded, the options for self-defense are severely limited..

DEFENSIVE USE The proper method for carrying the espantoon is in a “short reach” position in the weak (non gun) hand with the index or middle finger through the leather thong. When interviewing one or more potentially hostile suspects, the espantoon may be placed under one arm. This enables the officer to utilize both hands to write information.

STRIKING AREAS AND TECHNIQUES Often the question is asked, “Do I strike with my strong hand?” Most officers will use their strong hand because it is a natural tendency in high stress situations, but your weak hand is also acceptable. If you spin or twirl your espantoon, use the hand that will be utilized for striking. The twirling of the espantoon will enable you to learn its exact length. This knowledge will increase familiarity and confidence as an extension of your arm. Care and consideration should be given when and where you should “twirl the stick.” The espantoon should not be spun in close areas to avoid the possibility of injury to others or property damage. In some situations the espantoon may appear better left in the ring. If the espantoon is too heavy or feels uncomfortable, the officer should obtain a lighter espantoon. The power of the espantoon is developed by the speed not the mass. An espantoon that is too heavy for the officer will be ineffective. Whenever an officer is forced to strike a person, he must only hit as hard as necessary to stop an assailant in an effort to gain control to effect an arrest.

Training Guideline Vol. 12, No. 7 Page - 4 - The best target areas are the legs. The point of impact should be on the outside rear quadrant of the upper leg about four inches above the knee. That is where the common peroneal nerve branches off from the sciatic nerve. Striking this area will cause an involuntary bending reflex action of the leg. In a sympathetic nerve reaction the other leg will also “buckle” causing the assailant to fall to the ground. On top of the calf has the same stunning effect. Do not strike for the knee joint which can cause permanent damage to bones, tendons and muscles. While the legs are the best target areas, an officer is not limited to the legs. Any strike to the head must be avoided. Courts have held that a strike to the head with an impact weapon is tantamount to using deadly force. To strike with the espantoon an officer should hold same in the “long reach” position. The hand should be at the base with the index finger through the leather thong. The striking point should be the top two inches of the upper section. These methods leave the hands free and gives immediate access to the espantoon. These techniques are not offensive but helps the officer to control a situation better and with more confidence. If the officer is in a situation where the escalation of force seems imminent; drawing the espantoon from the ring tends to be offensive and aggravates the situation. When attempting to control a person or a situation, neither “slapping” the free end of the “stick” into an open hand nor pointing the espantoon in a threatening manner is advisable. These actions provoke people and place the officer in greater peril.



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The Perfection Collection 

perfection collection 1

 The Perfection Collection was a well turned set of sticks turned to replicate
four of Baltimore's most well known nightstick espantoon turners
Department Issued turned by one of two Reverends 
Then Three well known highly collectable stick makers
Carl Hagen, Ed Bremmer and, Joe Hlafka
perfection collection

Top Down - Department Issued Turned by Rev McKenney or Rev. Longenecker 
Carl Hagen, Edward Bremmer, and Joseph "Nightstick Joe" Hlafka


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Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll.

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Devider color with motto


How to Dispose of Old Police Items

Please contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll if you have any pictures of you or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to Honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department.  Anyone with information, photographs, memorabilia, or other "Baltimore City Police" items can contact Ret. Det. Kenny Driscoll at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. follow us on Twitter @BaltoPoliceHist or like us on Facebook or mail pics to 8138 Dundalk Ave. Baltimore Md. 21222


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seven grooves