the majority of people think about the role of police
it conjures up thoughts of peace keeping and protection,
or at least it should. And whom do they protect us from,
who is the traditional opponent of the police? The criminal
right? We are familiar with the phrases “fighting
crime” and “keeping the peace”. The
words fighting and keeping imply that some force or
effort is going to be needed to fight crime and keep
In order to obtain the position of police officer you
have to have a clear criminal and in most places traffic
record, a high school diploma and in more and more places
college credits. A history of drug use has to be minimal
and in the majority of places nonexistent.
This usually means that you had a somewhat normal background.
Managed to get through school and a few years afterwards
without getting into any real trouble, chances are that
you did not grow up in an environment brewing with chaos,
crime, drug use and physical interpersonal conflict.
Your life was injected with right and wrong and the
learning of appropriate behaviors.
In contrast research shows us that the average criminal
is produced from a turbulent child hood where abuse
and substance abuse are the norm. A lack of parental
support leads to the belief of a shortened future and
Sometimes this leads to dropping out of school, more
substance abuse and more time to get in trouble. Lying
and stealing are survival instincts that have to be
removed during early childhood. Fighting for survival
is also required in one form or another is also the
norm for these individuals.
Criminals are typically impulsive and fear of getting
caught far outweighs the fear of punishment. This leads
them to being very violent, especially when cornered.
This is before you add in alcohol and other substances
both legal and illegal.
In years past our police candidate was given a uniform,
badge, gun, nightstick, and in many cases a sap. He
might have had a high school diploma and maybe a few
years of military experience. Usually he was put into
service with little to no training except the wisdom
he could steal from the old timers.
Even today in many big cities officers start out on
a foot post. What is very different today is that they
have radio and no longer have respond to a call box
for an assignment or drag a bad guy back to the call
box for the wagon to pick him up.
Another thing that is different is that you no longer
see officers walking down the street with nightstick
in hand. Can you imagine the public outcry? So even
if he came to the job without much experience with the
other side of the tracks, he was dropped off there and
learned to survive. He learned how to hurt bad guys
before they hurt him, in most cases by himself since
back up was coming of foot if they came at all.
Fast forward today when majority of police of police
academies are 4-6 months long. Officers carry a semi-automatic
handgun, two spare magazines, OC spray, ASP Baton and
Tazer on their belt. A radio on their belt keeps them
in touch with communications. Their training covers
a broad range of topics from constitutional issues to
use of force. Or more importantly warns them against
excessive force. When not to hit, when not to shoot.
They are trained how to take compliant subjects into
custody. In most cases force on force training implies
Simmunitions and when those situations deteriorate into
chaotic hands on situations the scenario is stopped.
I mean after all someone could get hurt and they have
a lot of money invested in the recruits. They never
really get to test what works in a real fight.
Therefore they either have over confidence in their
training or lack of confidence in their options. . Because
of lack of experience just not the ability to recognize
limitations and the need for other options. Recruits
who refuse to use the appropriate amount of force are
ignored while a student who fails to pass a test is
So there is a very good chance that an officer might
make it from birth all the way through the graduating
the police academy without getting punched in the face.
First protected by their upbringing and then by the
institution. So more than ever there is a separation
between the mindset and “training” between
the officer and the criminal.
What happens when the good guy and the bad guy meet
in the street? The majority of the time that suspects
are injured it is not a result of the use of deadly
force. It is a result of several officers trying to
take a subject into custody. We have all seen this,
several officer swarm an individual. Much of the time
punches, kicks, OC and the baton are used.
Very often the strikes are ineffectual because of two
major factors, one is the suspect being under the influence
of alcohol or drugs, two, especially in the case of
baton strikes, the strikes are targeted towards major
muscle groups, which have no mechanical effect and rely
on pain compliance.
The petri dish of excessive force is when officers experience
task fixation when techniques fail to perform as advertised
and their heartbeat rises towards 220 beats a minute
which is the level at which most people are unable to
switch gears and try something different. The only thing
worse that seeing a video of an officer beating a subject
with a baton, is a video of several officers doing so.
The officers of the call box days would have laughed
at the idea of striking a bag guy on the side of his
leg to get him to stop doing something. They knew that
it did not work. They knew the trick was a sap tap to
the head, collar bone or chin depending on the circumstances.
They also knew how much force to apply either from experience
or being schooled from the old timers.
What else did they have that too few police of today
do? Confidence in their tools besides their sidearm
and stress inoculation resulting from immersion in the
criminal environment. I would imagine that they were
also quicker to use force since they new that help was
I am sure many of you are saying, “oh my God,
I can't believe he is advocating hitting people
in the head”. Don't throw the baby out with
the bath water. When you have several officers hitting
a subject with batons and he is continuing to fail to
comply, chances are sooner or later he will take a headshot
or more likely a shot to a major joint that will drop
Just too bad it is after the 30th strike. How about
doing that in the first few strikes. You give police
a stick, arguably the best martial tool in the world
and make them impotent by telling them to strike large
muscle groups when the rest of the world knows that
impact weapons seek bones.
And while we are at it, saps should be brought back
into the mix. A traditional weapon of the police that
have been all but outlawed, and why? Because they work
and people got hurt.
There are a few things that are never going to change.
One is that criminals have the choice not to commit
the crime. Two they have the choice to submit the authority
of the police. And three, no matter who the officer
is, and not matter who the criminal is, at some point
they will meet and the officer has to make physical
contact to arrest the criminal. If the criminal chooses
to resist he needs to accept the consequences.
As criminals get more daring and violent we owe it to
the police and the society they serve to ensure that
that their selection, training and equipment allows
them to meet the level violence needed to complete their
mission. If we continue to fail in doing this don't
be surprised when we just trade criminal's lawsuits
for the funerals of the police and citizenry.