Expect trouble when the cuffs are out early

Accessed too early, the hand holding the handcuffs is useless until the arrestee is in a position of control


All too often, officers can be seen reaching for their handcuffs as they order a suspect to turn around and put their hands behind their back. There are also many cases where officers reach for their cuffs too early while attempting to control suspects on the ground.

In both cases, when the cuffs come out too early, that usually results in lots of trouble. Accessed too early, the hand holding the handcuffs is useless until the arrestee is in a position of control.

I had a similar situation in the early 1980s when I responded to a domestic call. Immediately upon my arrival, I was attacked by a family member. I reached for my cuffs while we were still standing and fighting and was able to put one of the cuffs on one of his wrists. Then at some point, we both fell to the ground with my left hand holding the handcuffs behind his back. The fall resulted in the fracture of my middle knuckle and my left wrist, rendering my left hand useless. Only after the suspect’s father helped me get the man under control was I able to complete the handcuffing. I should have never grabbed for my handcuffs until the suspect was under control.

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