Handcuffing Hazards

My old friend George Demetriou retired not long ago after…

My old friend George Demetriou retired not long ago after an exemplary and action-packed career with the NYPD. For many years he taught for another NYPD alumnus, Phil Messina, at Messina’s Modern Warrior Dojo in Lindenhurst, New York and is now teaching on his own. I’d like to share some of his advice on handcuffing, written in the blood of wounded or slain LEOs (law enforcement officers).

CUFF THEN SEARCH
Demetriou wrote, “Since 2007 at least five police officers have been killed or seriously wounded while handcuffing, in some cases after getting one handcuff on the violator. The offenders ‘rip’ or pull the handcuffed arm away suddenly after cooperating with the officer and then draw a concealed firearm and shoot the officer. It should be noted that in every case this has occurred when the offender was being placed into custody for a minor offense.

“Being aware that the offender can resist or assault at any point will remove the element of surprise from his strategy. Officers must be cognizant of the fact that this is the stage of the cuffing process where the bad guy does not need to see you. You have made physical contact so he knows where you are without having to look at you. You are standing where he can turn, pivot, spin or drop down and he knows you are within arm’s reach.

“Between getting the first cuff on and the second cuff on is the most crucial part of the cuffing process, yet this is the point of handcuffing where many officers begin to mentally relax, believing they have control. Violent offenders who are not psychologically incapacitated by the officer’s presence and command of the situation, especially the subjects who have pre-planned and practiced for this opportunity, will fight at this point. The ‘click’ of the first cuff is their cue to go into action.”

This was not the first time this happened. It took law enforcement a long time to realize that cuffing, to secure the suspect, should come before searching. Back then, many departments taught “search, then cuff,” and it got a lot of cops hurt by perpetrators whose hands were left free for too long.

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