Cell Entry Tactics: Liability management through innovative program implementation

By Gary T. Klugiewicz
Director of Training
Redman Training Division
March 11, 2002


In 1986, I presented my first Calibre Press Street Survivala Seminar in Canada. The Canadian Officers present loved it. But, several made the comment while chuckling a little bit that "You Americans worry too much about liability." Seventeen years later, neither the Canadians nor the rest of the world's police and correctional officers are laughing. Liability has become the "Big Bad Wolf" that is trying to blow down law enforcement's door. Everyone from the line officer to the command staff officer is worried about liability and how to minimize its exposure. The fact of the matter is that we will never have "less" liability because liability and the threat of litigation are here to stay. What we can do is learn how to manage it. Through liability management we will improve, not only our track record in dealing with litigation, but also the safety of public we serve, the officers who protect them, and even the inmates that have been entrusted into our care and custody.

Rather than focus on how to find the magic potion to give us less liability in order to somehow limit our liability, we should be proactively focusing on how to improve the delivery of training programs to foster the development of better staff, better service, and better results.

In developing the training philosophy for the RedMana Training Division, Dave Young, the Training & Standards Manager, and I developed what is referred to as the Professional Management Paradigm pictured below.

This paradigm features a triangle with the three components of successful program implementation: Leadership, Equipment, and Training. This means that for any program to be successful these three (3) elements must be present. The agency's leadership at every level must be involved, equipment must be purchased, and training must be provided. Here the problem begins.

As we have all seen, often only one or two of the elements are provided. For instance, the upper management of an agency mandates that a new piece of equipment will be used, but middle level management and the first line supervisors are neither consulted nor notified. Equipment is eventually purchased but not enough of it for the needs of the entire institution. To make matters worse, there is no funding to provide the training needed for this new equipment. Therefore, the equipment that does exist either gathers dust on the shelf or, sometimes worse, is put into service without proper training with dangerous and even deadly ramifications for both staff and inmate populations. The bottom line is that successful programs incorporate Leadership, Equipment, and Training.

To illustrate the importance of the Professional Management Paradigm, this article will examine the implementation of a Cell Entry / Forced Cell Move Program.

I. Leadership Component: The Importance of the Leadership Component

A clear understanding of the importance of this component of the Professional Management Paradigm is of utmost importance in understanding why new programs succeed or fail. Program implementation begins and ends with leadership. Leadership is necessary:

    1. to begin the process of program implementation.
    2. to get the resources to obtain both the equipment and training time.
    3. to get policies & procedures in place.
    4. for program review and evaluation.

Leadership has to go beyond the command staff decision to implement the program. Leadership has to include the middle level managers who will supervise the programs and the first line supervisors who directly supervise the line function. Leadership must also include the ability of the line staff to "step up" and take a leadership role in an emergency, or if the chain of command is disrupted for a short period of time. As Danny Rosa from the Michigan Law Enforcement Standards Board likes to say … as Management "we mandate outcomes, suggest strategies, but allow for creativity within guidelines." To be successful, any program -- but especially an emergency response program -- has to accept or at least incorporate "Murphy's Law" which states that anything that can go wrong will likely go wrong in the real world. Agency personnel at every level of command must be ready to take command or perform the job in a critical situation. This means that everyone must have, at least, a working knowledge of your agency's cell entry policy & procedures and know how a cell entry is conducted, and who is responsible for what, where, when, why, and how.

How Training is Delivered

The way we insure that everyone knows their functions (along with the other levels of control functions) is to provide training in a new, unorthodox, but innovative manner. The training is conducted in the following specific format.

Initial Instructor Training for a Cell Extraction / Forced Cell Move Program is usually scheduled for a forty (40) hour class which is the industry standard. This instructor training should include not only trainers but also all the first line supervisors who will supervise the duty application of the training. First line supervisors must become the primary instructors of any agency because they have the most contact with line staff. In addition, any training program that the first line supervisors do not have direct and intimate knowledge of is doomed to failure.

Following the initial instructor training is twenty-four (24) hours of Squad & Team Leader Training. This is where the first line supervisor, squad & team leaders learn how to supervise and coordinate the material covered in the initial training. It should be noted that even if your first line supervisors do not function as squad & team leaders, these first line supervisors supervise these personnel and therefore need to know what they are doing and how to best utilize their services.

The last sixteen (16) hours is the Command Staff Component of the training. This training consists of: a complete Equipment Protocol Review of all applicable equipment; a review of "lessons learned" from recent cell entry incidents in other institutions; a review of existing emergency response policy & procedures, or, if none are available, development of emergency response protocols; a Table Top Exercise which takes the Command Staff Officers from Planning to Execution to After-action Reports to Review; and finally, the participants in the initial instructor training will conduct a series of Cell Entry / Forced Cell Move Demonstrations for the Command Staff so that the Command Staff will truly know what their personnel have been trained to do, how they will accomplish this, and the role of the Command Staff in the process. What all of this accomplishes is an understanding of all parties involved or their duties and the role they and other agency personnel have in getting the job done - effectively, efficiently, and safely -- while managing the liability issues that accompany all Use-of-Force incidents.

Now that we have trained the instructors, the first line supervisors, and the command staff, the agency is ready to train its line staff and implement the program.

II. Equipment Component:

The second component of the Professional Management Paradigm is Equipment. The reason that it is listed second is that the purchase of equipment is necessary prior to the implementation of any new training program. It is hard to train personnel to use equipment without having at least some of it on hand. There is another important reason for having the all equipment prior to the training of staff. If the equipment doesn't arrive before or shortly after training, staff tend to "forget" what they were trained to do, and have to go through remedial training before program implementation. The concept that "if you don't use it, you lose it" explains the problem.

Remember that equipment falls into two (2) categories: duty gear and training gear. Although we are going to focus on duty gear, training equipment will also need to be purchased if you don't already have it. This training equipment includes protective training gear for role players, training batons, and training mats to pad the training cell areas.

Duty Equipment needed to perform safe and effective cell entries includes:

Personal Equipment:

  • Riot Helmets with Drop Shields
  • Protective Masks
  • Mouth guards
  • Riot Suits that includes Torso, Arm, Groin, and Leg Protection
  • Ballistic or Stab Resistant Body Armor
  • Hand Protection
  • Jump Suits
  • Tactical Boots

    Team Equipment:

  • Aerosol Spray Units
  • Chemical Munitions
  • Soft Shields
  • Electrical Devices
  • Hard Shields
  • Impact Weapons
  • Specialty Impact Munitions

    III. Training Component:

    The final component of the Professional Management Paradigm is Training. This component is made up of Policy & Procedure Training, the actual Cell Entry Tactic Training, and finally, the training in the Incident Documentation Procedures. This article focuses on the actual Cell Entry Tactic Training. It has been said that Defensive Tactics is a matter of opinion - and everyone has an opinion on almost any subject. This is also true with Cell Entries. This section will highlight the major components that any Cell Entry Program should have, including: (1) the Negotiation Phase; (2) the Show of Force Phase; (3) the Cell Entry Phase; and (4) the Incident Debrief, Documentation, and Incident Review Process Phase.

    (1) The Negotiation Phase.

  • Initial verbal exchange during which the Tactical Communication should be utilized.

    Note: A very "user friendly" communication System is the Verbal Judoa System developed by George Thompson, PhD. that features the S.A.F.E.R. 8 to 5 Concept -- S.A.F.E.R. Concept explain the reasons words fail and action is needed. The Tactical 8 Step explains the best way to initiate an Initial Contact. The Tactical 5 Step explains the best way to deal with verbal resistance and outlines the need to "Set Context" and "Give Options" prior to escalating to physical intervention. The most important thing to remember about justifying the "Use-of-Force" in a correctional institution is that the "Use-of-Force" is restricted by the very nature of a correctional environment. It becomes very important to show restraint and an emphasis on Verbalization Skills. Therefore, in non-emergency situations, spend the time negotiating at every level of the process unless staff and/or inmates are placed in imminent jeopardy.

  • Arrival of backup officers.
  • Continued verbal negotiations.
  • Arrival of supervisor.
  • Continued verbal negotiation.
  • Decision to form the cell entry team.

    (2)The Show of Force Phase.

  • Set for full pad subduing team formation.
      A. Initial set up.
      B. Supervisor continues negotiations.
      C. Control of team turned over to Team Leader.

  • Team Leader's final negotiation attempt using the Tactical Communication's "Confirm Non-compliance" Format, i.e., "Is there anything that I can say to get you to comply with my lawful, legal order?" Give one final order to confirm non-compliance.

    Note: If the subject complies with these verbal orders, be ready to restrain the subject using your institution's Surrender Ritual. This is often accomplished with the use the RIPP Restraint Escort Belt and Tether System or other special restraints.

    (3) The Cell Entry Phase:

  • Set up single file formation.

    Note: If chemical agents or Oleoresin Capsicum (O.C.) Spray are used, additional commands should be given to determine if the subject is now willing to follow verbal orders.

  • Open cell door on command.
  • Dynamic or Slow & Deliberate Entry into the cell.
  • Stabilize the subject.
  • Restrain the subject.
  • Medically treat the subject, as needed.
  • Escort/Transport subject, as needed.
  • Safety Release the subject into the appropriate housing location.
      4. The Incident Debrief, Documentation and Incident Review Phase:

    • Incident Debrief
        A. Team Leader Debrief the Team.
        B. Team Leader Briefs Supervisor.
        C. Supervisor Briefs Shift Commander.
    • Documentation
        A. Team Members prepare Initial Reports.
        B. Team Leader prepares Report Summary
    • Incident Review
        A. Supervisor forwards reports and videotapes, if applicable, through chain of command.
        B. The incident is reviewed by the appropriate middle level manager.
        C. Feedback is given back through chain of command to the Team.
        D. Training is modified, as needed, based on these Incident Review procedures.
    • The use of the Professional Management Paradigm helps to maximize the use of resources by insuring that (1) the new programs are truly understood by all levels of leadership from the line officer to the first line supervisor to the middle level manager to the command staff officer, (2) the right equipment is purchased at the right time for the right people, and (3) that the training for new programs is conducted so that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities, and is able to carry out their assigned duties. The use of this paradigm is a Win / Win Situation because the agency is better able to deal with emergency situations while being able to demonstrate the "Due Care" that is so important when dealing with the political and public outcries that often accompany the aftermath of high profile situations. Everyone is safer; the public we serve, our staff and the inmates we house. The use of the Professional Management Paradigm in instituting any new program states that our institution was properly led, properly equipped, and properly trained - all major components of any liability management program.

      Gary T. Klugiewicz

      Gary T. Klugiewicz is recognized as one of the nation’s leading defensive tactic trainers and the developer of the Active Countermeasures System of Unarmed Blocking and Striking Techniques. A recently retired as a captain with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, Gary has twenty-five years in law enforcement. He is the Director of Training for the Fox Valley Technical College RedMan® Training Division. Gary is also a consultant for many police and correctional agencies throughout the United States. In addition, he is a founding member of the Police1.com Training Advisory Board

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