Friday, September 30, 2011

Handcuffing and Arrest Techniques from the WPA

As promised, here's a little of what I learned at the Writers' Police Academy.  This session was on Handcuffing and Arrest Techniques, with instructors Stan Lawhorne and Dee Jackson.

The first objective with dealing with a violent suspect is to secure him/her.  Stan and Dee demonstrated a number of hand to hand takedown procedures but this is not the preffered method.




Ideally, the officer will be able to order to suspect to lay facedown, arms spread, palms up.  (Dee entertained us at this point with a number of the excuses they get for refusing to lay down, including, "Hey, that ground's all wet.  I ain't laying in no puddle.")




The office then approaches the suspect, kneels down and applies the weight of one knee to the suspect's shoulder - not the neck or the side (ribcage area) where the weight could cause injury.  The officer applies the handcuff to the near arm first and orders to the suspect to raise his/her other arms.  If the suspect is uncooperative at this point, the officer is in the best postion to lean across the suspect and grab the other arm without losing control.



Believe it or not, most handcuff keys are interchangable.  A handcuff key is simply a small rod with a "nipple" on the end.  This is a standard universal handcuff key.




Most handcuff manufacturers provide this type of key with a new pair of cuffs.  Stan explained that these keys are small and can be difficult to work with in the field so many officers purchase keys with a larger grip surface (below - bottom) or a key holder into which a small key can be inserted (below - top).



  

Since handcuff keys are universal, they are very easy to purchase and not that hard to make.  Thus, officers have to assume many of the people they need to cuff will have their own key.  This is one of the reasons hands are cuffed behind the suspect's back.  The correct position for handcuffing is with the palms facing out and the lock opening facing upward to make it impossible for the suspect to pick the lock. 



The most common types of handcuffs are chain and hinged. 
Although the chain variety are easier to carry, the hinged provide better security (less flexibility to the wearer). 


The cuff circle is made up off a fixed wider side  (the dark side in the picture below) and a moving narrow side (the lighter side).  Cuffs are not opened to apply to the wrist.  The narrow side is slapped against the wrist with enough force to push it through the opening in the wider side and it will swing full cirle and come back into the locked position around the wrist.  




Because the lock is a simple rachet style, it will continue to get tighter as pressure is applied.  To prevent the cuff from getting tight enough to cause injury - either through struggle or deliberately by the suspect in an attempt to have the cuffs removed - most cuffs now have a double lock that can be applied to fix them in place.


Okay, that's today's lesson on handcuffing and arrest techniques.  Any questions?


Groaner of the day: Is an FBI sketch artist a bureau drawer?

14 comments:

Cate Masters said...

Interesting tidbits, LD - I never knew the keys were interchangeable. Makes a good opportunity for a story twist. :)
That's so cool they shared this info. Sounds like time well spent.

LD Masterson said...

Cate - The whole Academy was packed with useful information. I'm recommending it to everyone.

Maria Zannini said...

These handcuffs look nothing like the pink furry ones in my dresser drawer.

Obviously, I need to get out more.

LD Masterson said...

Maria - I don't know. Sounds like you may be having more fun staying home.

Mike Keyton said...

Great stuff. I was searched once by Spanish border police but never been handcuffed :)

Angela Brown said...

You know LD, when you're wearing a pair of $$200 True Religion jeans, a $100 Sean John or Roca Wear shirt or some fitted, newfandangle off the shoulder shirt that cost twice as much as the jeans, laying down in a puddle doesn't hold the same appeal as it would for someone like me who would simply see it as a cheap way of getting that spaghetti stain off my $10 graphic tee.

Stephen Tremp said...

Almost makes me want to bring home a pair of handcuffs. Almost.

Lydia Kang said...

Totally fascinating! Thanks for sharing with us.

LD Masterson said...

Mike - I'd love to hear the story behind that search.

LD Masterson said...

Angela - I guess the morale would be, don't run afoul of the lew in your good clothes.

LD Masterson said...

Stephen - you don't already have a pair? Why does that surprise me?

LD Masterson said...

Lydia - You're welcome. It was a fascinating weekend.

Mike Keyton said...

Ref the spanish policeman, the story is here, LD

http://baffledspirit.blogspot.com/2008/08/spanish-customs.html

Liz Fichera said...

So the moral of the story is always carry a spare handcuff key whenever you get arrested. :) I'll have to remember that...