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Departments : The Winning Edge

Three Steps to Compliance

Using a baton, you can quickly overcome a suspect's resistance, stabilize, and cuff him.

August 01, 2008  |  by Terry E. Smith


You have seized the tactical advantage with hands-on or armed defense with a baton, OC, or ECD. Now it's time to stabilize the resisting suspect's upper extremity through, for example, a suspect-control hold called an armlock. How do you know when a tactical advantage has been achieved? Simple, study the suspect's body language and look for signs of compliance. A baton is a great tool for stabilizing a suspect. If you don't believe me, consider the following excerpt from a March 1994 Police Review article titled "A Friend Indeed."

"The PR-24 proved its usefulness in subduing a prisoner who became violent while being driven to the police station. [Police constable] Mark Buttifant explained how, while he was driving, the prisoner began to struggle with [the female police constable] in the back. He was able to pass his colleague the baton while she managed to put the prisoner in an armlock. There were a few leverage problems, but the incident and the training showed how effective the baton can be in a confined space."

In this incident, a baton-aided armlock was used to stabilize a prisoner's arm. Such an application is not advocated as an overcome tactic, but the technique used by the constable to perform a baton-aided armlock was sufficient in this case to achieve anatomical control and defeat that prisoner's violent behavior.


The three rules of handcuffing are: get them on, double lock them, and monitor the suspect. When removing a suspect's handcuffs, it is just as important to stabilize the arms as when applying them in the first place. You can use the mechanical advantage of a baton-aided armlock to achieve adequate anatomical control of one arm while a partner removes the handcuffs from a suspect's wrists. When removing cuffs, the principles of OSC work in much the same way as when applying cuffs, but in reverse order. This ensures that you are in a position to overcome a suspect should that become necessary. If it were to become necessary, you would again simply overcome, stabilize, and recuff.


– Terry E. Smith is program manager for the Monadnock Police Training Council, a part of BAE Systems Products Group. He has been involved in teaching less-lethal defensive tactics to criminal justice personnel in the United States and other countries for more than 33 years.

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