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You don't have to be on a special response team to be a 'tactical' officer.

March 01, 2002  |  by Gary Klugiewicz

If a subject ignores your order to get down, you may need to push him to the ground to clear the way for other officers to engage other threats.

Follow these steps:

  • Move in toward the subject with your weapon aimed at him and order him to get down on the ground.
  • Transition the weapon to your reaction side while moving into a high guard position with your strong hand.
  • Hook the subject's neck with your strong hand and pull him in close to your body.
  • Begin pushing the subject to the ground while pivoting to increase your power and to clear the subject out of the way so other officers can get by to engage other threats.
  • Continue to direct the subject to the ground while commanding, "Down!"
  • Move back into a defensive stance with your weapon back on target and finish the stabilization commands: "Stay Down! Put your hands out to your Sides! Palms Up! Don't Move!"
  • Call for an arrest team officer to complete the handcuffing or do it yourself while a backup officer covers the subject.

Resistance or Assault - When dealing with a resisting or assaultive subject, you need to assess the officer vs. subject factors before approaching. Obviously you won't move in to take down "Godzilla's Big Brother" by yourself.

But when faced with assault or resistance, one option is to perform an active countermeasure such as an empty hand striking technique.
Follow these steps:

  • Move in toward the subject, aim your gun at him, and order him to "Get down on the ground."
  • Transition the weapon to your reaction side while moving into a high guard position with your strong hand.
  • "Load up" your strong side forearm for a forearm strike, perform a strong side knee strike or angle kick, or stun the subject into a nearby wall in order to establish control.
  • Hook up the subject, direct him to the ground, and stabilize.

Potentially Lethal Assault/Threat -Respond with deadly force. Once the subject is down, cover him with your gun until he can be handcuffed.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The third way that you can hone your tactical edge is to take advantage of all opportunities for "real world" training.

The importance of preparing for high stress, life-threatening situations cannot be overemphasized. Lt. Col. David Grossman, the author of "On Killing," says the best way to prepare for these types of experiences:

  • Practice combat breathing by taking slow, deep, and rhythmic breaths before, during, and after stressful situations. An officer who practices autogenic breathing has the best chance of staying relatively calm in these oftentimes chaotic situations.
  • Receive a Stress Inoculation by participating in high-stress training sessions that reproduce the types of pressure that you will experience in real-life events. By participating in high-stress training simulations with tools like Simunition FX marking cartridges and/or RedMan weapon defense suits, you will become better inoculated to the stress involved in actual duty encounters. You will actually get "used to" these chaotic simulations and you will respond better in the field.
  • Develop conditioned responses to the behaviors you are likely to experience in your duty environment. By practicing the tactics associated with the levels of resistance that you expect to experience, you will build up a "conditioned response" that will translate from the training room to the duty environment. And you will develop a muscle memory for survival skills.

Participating in training sessions such as the one above not only teaches officers the skills needed on the job, but can also accustom them to high-stress situations, allowing for better performance in similar situations in the field.

Officers who remain alert, who practice "when/then" thinking, and who have been trained to respond to the different subject responses that they are likely to experience in the field have the greatest likelihood of successfully dealing with the threats presented during either a tactical or first-responder operation.

Gary T. Klugiewicz retired from the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department in 2001 with the rank of captain. He is a nationally recognized expert on the use of force and tactical police operations.

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