Defensive Position

Does the training provided in the academy adequately prepare officers for the defensive tactics often needed in the street? Detective Erica Ortiz answers.

Erica Ortiz Headshot

I don't think the training we received in the academy prepared me for the variety of situations I've encountered in the field. Many times, the control holds don't work, and when you use your mace, most of the officers are affected by it while the intended target remains unaffected, unharmed and undeterred.

I also believe that officers should be given the new batons that the rookies have, because they appear to be more effective. We should all have stun guns as well. I actually think the stun guns would stop most acts of violence and resistance before they escalate beyond police control.

When I first came out, I worked in the 12th District, and it seemed like people didn't call police until things were already out of hand. Many times, we entered a situation that was already at the boiling point, and in my eyes we entered it with no real protection other than our guns, which are only for drastic situations.

I have been in too many fights to count, and I can't think of one where I used any of the control holds. Nine times out of 10, the baton was more in the way than an asset, and the mace was a complete catastrophe whenever a renegade cop broke the unspoken rule never to use it. Working as a uniformed officer was both the best time I've had in the Police Department and the worst because of the dangers I faced on several occassions. I trully believe that the Police Department should change what they teach in terms of self defense, because everyone I've spoken to in the past couple of days agrees that it was a waste of time.

Some suggestions I got from fellow officers: boxing lessons and stun-gun training. I agree with those suggestions and I would add one more. The self-defense training needs to be more fluid. The instructors taught us how to push an opponent away from us and how to back away but what happens after we've done that?

As a rookie, I remember being confused as to when or at what point I was warranted in strking someone. That needs to be made more clear, and the class [members] should be taught to defend themselves but also how to immediately go on the offense. That way, it becomes second nature to push someone away and immediately strike back until you overcome the resistance, because those few seconds of hesitation could easily cost you your life.

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Erica Ortiz Headshot
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