Who was Abe Cushing?

The patent for Abraham Cushing’s finger cuffs.
The patent for Abraham Cushing’s finger cuffs.

When we saw Abraham Cushing's finger cuffs at the Concord police station, we got curious. Who was this inventive policeman? With the help of the police department and the Concord Public Library, we found some biographical information.

Cushing was born on Feb. 21, 1884, in Concord. He's listed in the Concord City Directory as a blacksmith in 1917. In 1919, he's listed as an engineer. At some point in 1919, he was hired as a police electrician/chauffeur. Cushing performed these duties until 1928, when he became a patrolmen. He was with the department until 1933.

During his time with the police department, Cushing was working on an alternative method to gain the compliance of criminals. He came up with finger cuffs, and they took off! From a November 1921 issue of Popular Science: “Mr. Cushing believes that the finger-cuff is more effective than the handcuff, and we are inclined to believe him. With one attached, a prisoner could endure very little pulling on one of his fingers, while a handcuffed prisoner can pull with all his strength and not injure his arm to any great extent.”

After leaving the police department, Cushing worked at Concord Electric until his death in 1950.

As far as we know, the finger cuff is not in use at any police departments nationwide. But, with his invention headed to the National Law Enforcement Museum, it appears Cushing's legacy will live on.

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Ben Conant

Author: Ben Conant

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