Defensive tactics training: Front compliance
Learning to apply this hold short of pressure also means it can be used as a tactically superior escort hold
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.
One of the first “come-alongs” I ever learned when I was aspiring to be a police officer was something called the “bar walk” by some, the “goose neck” by others and “front compliance” by still others. I used many different control holds on the street, but none more often than the front compliance hold.
This hold not only works to overcome resistance but also convinces some suspects to stop resisting as well. Learning to apply this hold short of pressure – so that the suspect is controlled but does not feel any pain on contact – also means it can be used as a tactically superior escort hold. In other words, through training and experience, you can learn to control by touch the “pain on” and “pain off.” This is an important skill to develop.
Once an officer truly understands the pressure/counterpressure dynamics of this particular hold, it can be adapted and applied no matter the position of the suspect’s arm. This will be demonstrated in following articles, but first here is how to apply a basic front compliance hold.
Step one: Capture the arm
Utilizing what is called the “pincers grip” (thumb and middle finger), take hold of the right wrist with your right hand and the area slightly above yet on the elbow with your left hand.
Step two: Bring the right wrist up higher than the elbow
If you choose to move to front compliance because of the situation, bring the right wrist up higher than the elbow, while controlling above and behind the elbow with your left hand, forming a kind of Y-shaped block with your left hand, pushing slightly forward just above the elbow on the triceps to maintain your grip.
Step three: Bend the wrist downward
As the suspect’s forearm is brought up higher than the elbow, with your right hand bend the suspect’s right hand downward configuring his arm and hand a bit like a goose neck.
Step four: Shoot your left arm between his arm and his body and cover the back of his hand
As you reach a point where the suspect’s hand is higher than the elbow, with your right hand controlling his right wrist and your left hand forming a Y-block against the back of his arm just above the elbow, shoot your left hand quickly between his arm and his body and with your left hand cover the back of his right hand, maintaining the downward “goose neck” configuration of the wrist. Your left hand’s middle finger should be indexed along the suspect’s knuckles for the best controlling position on the back of the suspect’s hand.
Step five: Cover the back of the suspect’s hand with your right hand to re-enforce the hold
Once your left hand is in the proper position across the back of his right hand, with your middle finger indexed and aligned with his knuckles, take your right hand from his wrist and cover the back of his right hand, re-enforcing the grip of your left hand. Tell the suspect as you perform the movement, “Police (or sheriff) relax, you are under arrest.”
Once the hold is in place, you can request that the suspect place his opposite hand where you want it. That might be on top of his head, palms up. You may have him place his hand behind his back in a position to handcuff if you choose.
In a team arrest, your partner would be applying the same hold at the same time on the left side, mirroring your movement. Officers working in tandem have a powerful effect on not only a subject being arrested but also on a crowd watching the arrest in progress.
You can, with practice, put this hold on quickly without any pressure on the wrist at all, saving the pressure for moments when you feel resistance. Remember that if you do get resistance and add pressure, tell him to “stop resisting” when he or she does comply, let up on the pressure, but do not release the hold.
This hold is a very powerful control technique once mastered. It can overcome an initial tendency to refuse to comply and gain compliance with a bit of pain without any injury. The pain can be delivered justifiably after sensing resistance to your legal arrest, then release the pain-causing pressure, without releasing the hold, when compliance is achieved.
In future installments you will be shown how to:
- Adapt this hold dynamically on the street.
- De-centralize (take a suspect down in a controlled manner) from this hold.
- Take the suspect’s hand behind his back and handcuff without losing control.
Stay safe, stay strong, stay positive and stay tuned to Police1.
Photos by Anya Marcou. Techniques demonstrated by Lt. Dan Marcou and Aidan Marcou.