Improvised Impact Tools
Improvised impact tools cannot include carrying a huge flashlight "just in case". In Canada, anything that is used or intended to be used as a weapon is a weapon. The Supreme Court has already ruled on this issue. Their decision was that, in a day and age where a 'penlight' can provide incredible illumination and a four inch by one inch flashlight can give up to one million candle power, there was no justification for carrying huge flashlights.
The court ruled that doing so was sufficient proof of 'intent to use as a weapon' (baton) to allow for weapon charges to be laid. Now lets follow this through an all too frequently occurring example. How many times do you observe some security or enforcement officers stop someone (investigative detention) and stand there banging their six cell mag-light against the side of their leg?
Now what constitutes an assault; 'acts words or gestures that would lead a prudent person to believe they are about to be assaulted'. It doesn't actually matter what the officer intended. What matters is what the subject perceived. So, the officer's 'investigative detention' and bad habit just became an assault with a weapon.
Should the subject choose to lay charges, because they felt threatened, the case law is already there and the officer has lost even before the incident gets to court. Should the subject 'react defensively' you do not have an assault on the officer. You have a citizen defending themselves from an assault by the officer.
So for civilian agencies especially, carrying a huge flashlight is out, unless you want to take the chance of facing weapons charges just for having it. As for enforcement agencies, you might as well lighten your duty belt and, if you think you may need your impact tool, draw it and file the paperwork ;-(
Now that you have been cautioned as to the downside of improvised impact tools, what can you use? Well, you literally have to improvise! Kubatons, those six inch metal, wood or plastic 'sticks' you see on key chains would fall under the same proof of intent as the over-sized flashlights...so would anything else you carry that demonstrates an 'intent to use' on your part.
We are referring to those objects which are already part of your gear or environment and which where not designed or intended for use as a striking tool. Radios and cell phones appear to be the most common choices. Any object small enough for you to pick it up and strike someone with constitutes an improvised impact tool.
You will still need to justify your actions and show that your use of force was appropriate 'given the nature of the perceived threat'. See? That 'perception' issue works both ways ;-) In most cases you still probably should not 'part the subject's hair' with your improvised impact tool or you can face excessive use of force and weapons charges. Yes, once you cross the line your 'tool' will again become a 'weapon' under law.
Bottom line; know how the law relates to whatever you use and to how you use it. Make sure that, whatever you use, you were legally carrying to begin with or improvised (picked up and used) on scene. That said, of course you can use whatever the subject brought to the incident as long as you exercise legal restraint and keep your use of force appropriate.