Defensive tactics training: Capturing the arm with a 'lever arm'

Use this technique when a suspect won't give up their arms for handcuffing


Having been an active street cop for the entire 33 years of my police career, as well as an active police trainer for 43 years, in this series I share some of the defensive tactics techniques that helped me prevail on the street. The series presents a variety of defensive tactics in a format that allows you to follow the instructions and practice the technique. Remember practice makes prepared.

Much of the resistance that officers experience can be described in this sentence: “The suspect just wouldn’t give up his arms for handcuffing.”

Often the suspect is posing this resistance while over the hood of a vehicle or while on their stomach on the ground. The longer this resistance is successful, the more probability exists that the situation will spin out of control and develop into something much worse.

Officers who are not trained in any specific way to overcome this resistance tend to attempt to capture the arm for handcuffing by instinctively locking their right hand on the suspect’s right wrist to forcibly bring the arm in a wide 180-degree arc, from the suspect’s front to the small of the back. This is an incredibly inefficient tactic and allows for a weaker suspect to resist effectively against a stronger officer.

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