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Departments : Officer Survival

Get a Handle on Car-Cuffing Techniques

Stop trouble with a motorist before it starts. Consider keeping the driver inside the vehicle.

February 01, 2000  |  by Sgt. William M. Hughes

Imagine yourself on patrol.  As usual, you are a single officer in a sector patrol car and cover an extensive area-and your backup is not around the corner.  You see a violation of the vehicle and traffic law and decide that you are going to stop the motorist.  You follow all the routine procedures that you have performed numerous times in your career.  You observe the driver and look for passengers in the vehicle; you call in the plate to your dispatcher; and you look for a safe place to stop the vehicle.

You pull the vehicle over, using your overhead lights, and position your police vehicle in a safe manner.  You approach the car and its occupant, taking all precautions as you do everyday, only on this day this stop will not turn out to be a simple violation of the vehicle and traffic law.

As you are interviewing the operator you notice a handgun on the floor of the passenger side of the car.  Of course, any backup is light years away.

Unpleasant Scenarios

After speaking with the operator you know that he does not legally posses this weapon.  You advise the operator that he is under arrest, and order him from the vehicle, using all of the skills you have acquired through your training and experience.

Having gotten him out of the car, you are getting ready to apply the cuffs, and suddenly he's off and running.  Yes, he was the former captain of the track team in high school and you were the captain of the debating team.  Try as you may, he gets away.  The car turns out to be stolen and K-9 is out of town on vacation.

We can turn this story around in many ways.  In the next scenario all things remain the same except this time the operator was the captain of the wrestling team, and you are still the former captain of the debating team.  Here, he gets the better of you and you are left on the ground bleeding and calling for backup.

Alternative Option

Let's look at this situation through another perspective.  Why let the man out of the car at all?  He is somewhat contained within the vehicle and the keys are in the ignition.  Our job is to still arrest the man in the safest way possible, and here is where the car-cuff technique becomes an option.

Let's assume we are at the left of the subject's vehicle and he is the driver:

• Have the driver turn the vehicle off using his left hand, while his right hand is in your clear view, and instruct him to drop the keys on the ground outside the car.

Tags: Gaining Compliance, Defensive Tactics, Vehicle Stops, Restraint Techniques, Verbal Communication


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