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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

• Instruct him to place his left hand out of the driver's window with his thumb pointed down and palm facing to the rear.

• Instruct him to place his right hand where you can see it (usually on the steering wheel).

• Grab the subject's left hand with your left hand and apply the cuff to the target.  (This must be a secure grip; the officer may use a slight twist to enhance the hold on the subject.)  If resistance is encountered you may disengage or apply torque to the subject's arm against the doorpost, enhancing the control of the subject.

• Instruct the subject to place his right hand behind his back while turning to his right.

• You then reach into the vehicle and complete the handcuffing procedure.

All officers should understand that this method of handcuffing requires practice.  Also, there are inherent risks that must be reduced in order to have some measure of safety.  Officers must also understand that there is not perfect way to perform this technique.  Each vehicle that an officer stops will present a different set of problems and will require the officer to look at the window and door frame to decide how he/she will safely complete the handcuffing.

This method can be modified in several ways, depending upon the situation presented.   If there are multiple subjects in the vehicle, the officer can direct all the passengers to place their hands on the windows, palms against the glass.  He/she could then handle each passenger, according to the needs of the situation.

As with any tactic, this technique is not meant to be used each and every time someone is to be handcuffed where a vehicle is involved, but may be employed for those circumstances in which we believe there is a risk for "fight or flight."

William M. Hughes is a sergeant with the Southampton Town Police Department in Hampton Bays, N.Y.  He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, is team leader in his agency's Emergency Service Unit, and is an instructor in defensive tactics, chemical agents and firearms.  This is his first contribution to POLICE.

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