Trending Topics

The forgotten piece of equipment: handcuffs

Many of us in law enforcement remember to maintain our firearms. As a firearms instructor, I’m part of that group of trainers that has hammered the message home. Unfortunately, few remember to check our less glamorous piece of equipment: our handcuffs.

Most veteran officer’s handcuff maintenance practices are a far cry from the those early days in the police academy when the newbie would continuously click the single strand through the double strand - over and over again. It was true years ago, and I see it today in the police academies I manage.

Many officers who work for slower jurisdictions, as well as administrators who are not catching calls regularly like their patrol division officers or deputies, neglect to check their handcuffs until that day comes that they need them. That’s the point when it is too late.

All law enforcers, regardless of arrest volume or rank, should regularly check their handcuffs. Like a firearm, the cuffs have parts that interact. If one can’t move, it’ll affect the reliability of a vital tool. Each time you check your firearm, you should inspect your handcuffs by doing the following:

1) Clean the handcuffs using a cleaning solvent. Be careful not to use too much.

2) Operate the locking unlocking, and double-locking mechanism frequently to be sure of smooth operation.

3) Swivel the cuffs around several times to be sure the double-strand has not become compressed together. If it has, it could impede the pass-through movement of the single-strand.

4) Visually inspect your handcuff key to be sure it is not twisted or otherwise compromised.

By following this handcuff maintenance regime, your officer safety should be enhanced.

Richard B. Weinblatt, a former police chief and police academy manager, has amassed quite a bit of education, training and experience in training law enforcement officers.

This column, made up of officer safety advice, training guidance, and other tips, is written to assist you in the discharge of your duties as you serve your community.

Please feel free to contact him through with your ideas and input for future columns.