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Control Tactics and Counter-Tactics

It's important that you know how to defeat an arrestee's response to your control techniques.

September 05, 2017  |  by Michael Schlosser and Dallas Schlosser

Every officer is more confident, more experienced, and better trained when using his or her preferred control tactics. It's good to have your "go to" moves. But it's even better to have two tactics that work well together and that you can easily apply to defeat the type of resistance the arrestee offers.

But if you don't have or can't use your favorite moves, or if your favorite moves are not applicable to the situation you face, consider the tactics described and recommended here.

Takedowns

The straight arm takedown and the bent arm takedown work well together. Using these techniques, you can make a decision to take the arrestee down forward or backward based on his type of resistance.

This tactic begins with the officer grabbing the arrestee in a straight arm position. For example, if you want to grab the arrestee's right arm, grab his right wrist first. Always grab the wrist first, and then use the opposite arm to grab the arrestee's arm. This will offer you much more control of the arrestee. From this position, you can initiate either a straight arm takedown, if the arrestee's arm remains straight, or a bent arm takedown, if the arrestee pulls away, bending his or her arm.

If the arm remains extended try a straight-arm takedown. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser
If the arm remains extended try a straight-arm takedown. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser

Straight Arm Takedown—If the arrestee's arm remains extended, you can easily initiate a straight arm takedown. The proper execution of a straight arm takedown depends on some important steps that you need to remember.

Control the arrestee's wrist with your outside hand, and control the arm at or just above the elbow with your inside hand. Remain close to the arrestee, with your inside foot close to the arrestee. Keep the arrestee's arm close to your body. Staying close will enable you to use leverage for the takedown, not strength alone.

Four things happen simultaneously when executing a proper takedown:

  1. The officer, while remaining close to the arrestee, pivots behind the arrestee (putting the arrestee off-balance)
  2. The officer pulls on the wrist, keeping the arrestee's arm near his or her body
  3. The officer rotates the arrestee's wrist forward
  4. The officer drives the arrestee's arm downward

Once the arrestee is on the ground and prone, you can rotate his or her palm upward while providing downward pressure on the arm, which will maintain control.

Consider a bent-arm takedown if the arrestee pulls away. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser
Consider a bent-arm takedown if the arrestee pulls away. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser

Bent Arm Takedown—If the arrestee pulls away from you, bend his or her arm and pull it toward his or her body. From this position, you can easily initiate a bent arm takedown.

Initiate this takedown by taking advantage of the arrestee's momentum, pulling the arrestee's arm back toward his body. Again, it is extremely important that you grab and maintain control of the arrestee's wrist with your outside arm. As the arrestee pulls his arm back, bending it at the elbow, you should move your inside hand over the arrestee's upper arm, under the arrestee's forearm, while grabbing the outside arm's wrist in a figure-four lock. Next, rotate your body toward the arrestee, driving him backward and downward. It may help you to drop to a knee to ensure downward motion.

If performed quickly, this motion will lead the assailant to rotate on the ground, and force him to end up in the prone position. At that point, you can use your forearm against the arrestee's shoulder joint, placing downward pressure and driving the wrist upward to maintain control.

Standing Control Holds

The Gooseneck and the Cow Paw are common standing control holds for active resisters. These moves control the arrestee's arm while causing pain compliance. The Gooseneck wrist manipulation is probably more widely used, but the lesser-known Cow Paw wrist manipulation can be initiated in the same manner, depending on the arrestee's resistance.

The Gooseneck and the Cow Paw are common standing control holds for active resisters. They control the arm and cause pain compliance. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser
The Gooseneck and the Cow Paw are common standing control holds for active resisters. They control the arm and cause pain compliance. Photos: Adalyn Schlosser

Gooseneck Control—To perform the Gooseneck technique, the officer may begin from the straight arm control, stepping back from the arrestee to gain space. From that position you should then pull back and down at the arrestee's elbow, putting the arrestee off balance, while bringing the arrestee's forearm into the center of your sternum for control.

Most likely, you can control the arrestee's arm by bringing it into your center mass and bending the arrestee's hand, forcing it toward his wrist. Keeping the arrestee's forearm tight against your sternum, you should be able to control the arm.

This hyperflexion (movement beyond normal range) of the arrestee's wrist will cause pain compliance, so you must give commands to the arrestee to stop resisting arrest. Once the arrestee complies, maintain strong control of the arrestee in this position while releasing some tension on the wrist. However, maintain a position from which you can regain pain compliance, if necessary.

Photos: Adalyn Schlosser
Photos: Adalyn Schlosser

Cow Paw Control—The counter to an officer's attempt to initiate Gooseneck control is for the arrestee to prevent his hand from being bent forward, toward his forearm. This will usually result in the arrestee overcompensating by bending his wrist backwards.

When the arrestee overcompensates to avoid your control hold, you have been given the opportunity to easily manipulate the arrestee's hand so that it bends backward toward the other side of his forearm, allowing you to hyperextend his hand and initiate a Cow Paw.
Both the Gooseneck (hyperflexion) and Cow Paw (hyperextension) techniques can cause pain compliance. As with the Gooseneck, if the arrestee complies, you should maintain strong control of the arrestee in this position while releasing some tension on the wrist. By maintaining control you can regain pain compliance if the arrestee starts resisting again.

You Need Options

Officers should never have just one "go-to" control tactic, whether it's a hold, takedown, or another tactic. Match each tactic with a secondary, complementary move that works with the arrestee's resistance.

Every takedown, control hold, or defensive tactic has a defense or counter. Learn these defenses and have available a secondary counter-tactic. If a training partner defends the initial tactic, study and identify the counter-move and learn a counter-tactic.

This does not have to be complicated, and it is essential that you discover a secondary tactic. You must then train in your "go-to" tactics and in the counter-tactics.

Dr. Michael Schlosser, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, and the Institute's lead control and arrest tactics instructor. He retired from the Rantoul (IL) Police Department as a lieutenant.

Dallas Schlosser is a certified master arrest and control tactics instructor through the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, and holds a third-degree black belt in Shinko-Ryu Karate-Do.


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