At some point in your career, you’ve likely been involved in a situation similar to this: You and your partner tell someone they’re under arrest. You move in to handcuff, they resist, the fight is on. You then try muscling one of the suspect’s arms behind his/her back, but your partner is pulling their other arm in the opposite direction. A short time later, several more of your partners arrive, who proceed to simultaneously attempt different takedowns and other random techniques they sort-of-remember from your department’s eight hour defensive tactics class last year. The tug-of-war ensues, adrenaline continues to skyrocket, and before you know it, your team has used every force option available to them with absolutely no effect, while the fight continues to drag on for 10 minutes.
Granted, in some incidents we’re fighting the incredible hulk who’s high on PCP. However, through personal experience on the street and all the training videos I’ve watched online, very rarely are we struggling with a suspect who’s bigger and stronger than all of us combined, some world champion grappler. Almost always, the problem during team arrests is that we end up fighting each other instead of the suspect.
In addition to consistent Jiu Jitsu training, here are some other considerations that might help you and your partners work more efficiently to get someone under control and into handcuffs:
Good communication is a key component in all aspects of our job, but I think it’s especially important when it comes to team arrest scenarios. If we’re all trying to do different things and not talking to each other, things are inevitably going to spiral out of control. Ideally, one officer should take control of the situation and give their partners specific tasks.
Keep Your Arrest Team Small
When someone is resisting, every cop wants in on the action. I get it. But again, we end up fighting each other instead of the suspect. I’ve found that any more than four cops making the arrest is far too many. You really only need one on each arm, one on the legs, and one to help control the head/hips.
Give the Suspect the Opportunity to Comply
We know that high levels of adrenaline and anger can give us tunnel vision. This happens a lot when suspects are resisting. We may be yelling at someone to turn over onto their stomach, but we’ve actually put them in a position where it’s physically impossible for them to do so. Below is an example. Note how one officer is holding the suspect’s legs down while the primary officer yells at him to turn over. After watching this several times, I honestly don’t think the guy could have rolled over if he wanted to.
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Police officers responded to Starbucks for an unknown reason. When they arrived they then began to place this individual under arrest who began resisting arrest. As you can see in the beginning of the video the subject also slaps the officer in the face. Necessary force was used to subdue the subject and gain control over him. What are your thoughts on this ? Stay safe out there and watch your 6ix ! ‼️ 🇺🇸🇺🇸🔵⚫️🔵⚫️🔥🔥👮♂️👮♂️🚔🚔💪🏾💪🏾 #leo #police #cops #law #lawenforcement #sheriff #blueline #bluelinebeast #backtheblue #support #follow #followme #likerecent #likemyrecent #thinblueline #bluelinebeast #blueline #usa #america #dreams #dreamjob #dreamscometrue #fitness #strong #stronger #usa #america #nyc #texas #cops #bluelivesmatter #2020 — 📸credit: @grind.face.tv
Control, Then Cuff
This is probably the most common issue we see. Cops will have every indication that the person is going to resist arrest, yet they will still take their handcuffs out before grabbing onto the suspect. This leaves you to fight with only one hand and makes it nearly impossible to cuff. If you do manage to get one on, your set of handcuffs become a weapon that can be used against you as it hangs from the suspect's wrist. I've found that a better approach is to either render them unconscious with a neck restraint, or work to a dominant position that allows you to get both hands behind their back and takes away their ability to fight back. Control, then cuff.
Notice how the officer in this video has his cuffs out way before they ever have the guy fully controlled:
Keep Your Hands Free
Aside from having your cuffs out too soon, it’s also really common to see multiple officers holding something in one of their hands, usually a Taser. It’s fine for one officer to try and use an intermediate weapon, but everyone else needs to be prepared to go hands on once it’s deployed. This is impossible if you and everyone else are also holding onto something. We’d like to think that we’d just re-holster or drop whatever is in our hand, but under stress that’s usually not the case.
Don’t Forget About the Legs
Sometimes we get so hyper-focused on the suspect's head and arms, that we forget entirely about their legs. If no one is controlling the lower half of their body, they will continue to be able to fight, and there’s a strong likelihood that they will be able to get back to their feet to either fight, or run. Like this:
Adding a few techniques and tactics for multiple officer arrest scenarios to your current in-service training is a must. You can also work these things with other cops at your gym. Here are a couple we've shown in the past and how they can apply in real world situations:
Stay Safe. Go Train. Oss!