Handcuffing a suspect is no easy task. Always keep an…

Handcuffing a suspect is no easy task. Always keep an eye on suspects during an arrest, and if possible, provide backup in case the suspect tries to resist or becomes violent. Steve Woods photo

When you went through the Academy, streetwise instructors taught you that handcuffs are both temporary restraints, and imperfect ones. It is a lesson that has been written in the blood of police officers.

In Case One, detectives handcuffed a murder suspect with his hands in front. He seemed cooperative as he sat in the back of their vehicle as they drove him to the murder scene. But he was able to reach over the un-caged seat of their unmarked unit and grab one of their 9mm pistols. In moments, both detectives were dead or dying. Before the escapee’s rampage was over, he would murder a State Trooper and take a hostage, finally committing suicide with one of the detective’s guns when a SWAT team invaded the place he’d chosen for his last stand. The memories of three dead lawmen scream the warning: Don’t cuff in front without additional restraints, and furthermore, maintain constant visual supervision!

Some lessons are learned without bloodshed. In Case Two, one patrolman backed up another for the arrest of two burglars in a car full of swag. The backup officer had just finished searching one suspect and cuffing his hands behind him when he realized the brother officer needed help with the other suspect. Ordering his own arrestee not to move, he helped get the other under control and cuffed. He then heard a footstep behind him. Spinning to face the first cuffed suspect, he saw the tall, slender man had stepped one foot through the handcuffs. The cop had turned in time to see the other foot step through, now leaving both hands in front of the suspect.

The officer drew his baton from its metal ring with a distinctive sound—and the suspect, his eyes now wide enough to show white all the way around, stepped back through his handcuffs until they were behind him again. The officer returned his baton to the ring and used a Flex-Cuff to secure the chain of the suspect’s cuffs to the back of the man’s belt. Transport and booking occurred without further incident.

The lesson? There’s nothing wrong with augmenting the restraints beyond handcuffs. Also, cuffing the suspect “back of hand to back of hand” limits their “step-through” capability, as does the use of hinged handcuffs.

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  • Al

    Can you guys perhaps put the full articles up from the back issues?

    I can’t go out and buy old issues.