Use of Force is the Core of the Police Role
David C. Couper
AUGUST 1, 2014
Sociologist Egon Bittner (1921-2011) once described the core of the police role as “the non-negotiated use of force.”
He was “spot on” with this observation.
Now if the use of force is our core, which I happen to also believe it is, then why don’t we pay more attention to why, when and how we are trained to use it? After all, when the public judges us as not using force properly trouble is close behind.
A good example is the arrest and “choke hold” by the NYPD officers after he was seen illegally selling cigarettes on the street. That end result was that the man died and, not surprisingly, strong public outcry. (For more, CLICK HERE).
I suggest that police need to take a deeper look at how force is used, the research surrounding various uses of force, and including the control of crowds. How police use force matters in a society committed to freedom and the preservation of life.
Police in a democracy should be well-trained and controlled in their use of force and be able to justify the use of force in every circumstance.
Last January, Ron Martinelli, a former police officer with more than 22 years of street experience wrote an important article about a necessary police restraining technique – lateral vascular control.
Martinelli is a multi-certified use-of-force instructor and forensic criminologist with a PhD. He is nationally recognized for his research on the subject of psychophysiology and stress-induced responses.
In the past, this technique has been confused with the “arm-bar-across-the-windpipe technique” that cuts off a person’s ability to breathe and induces a panic response — literally a choke hold. However, Martinelli talks about the lateral vascular restraint or “carotid control.” ‘A technique, incidentally, that I used over a hundred times as a street cop and as a Judo competitor, teacher, and police self-defense instructor.
Here are some excerpts from Martinelli’s article and why police leaders should consider it and then properly train their officers in its use:
Reconsidering Carotid Control
“Law enforcement is experiencing a dramatic increase in citizen contacts and critical incidents involving violently resistive and or otherwise dangerous subjects who are under the influence of street stimulants and designer drugs such as ‘bath salts.’ Officers are also encountering more emotionally disturbed persons (EDPs) who are presenting with decompensating, agitated, and chaotic behavior who are experiencing serious medical emergencies such as an ‘agitated chaotic event’ and/or agitated-excited delirium…
“Frequently, such encounters result in multiple applications of an electronic control weapon (ECW), OC spray, impact weapons, and officer swarms to physically control and restrain resisting subjects who classically demonstrate superhuman strength…
“Millennial generation officers and even veteran officers who are often hesitant to go hands-on with an agitated or actively resistant subject often go right to the application of an ECW. However, for a variety of reasons, ECWs are historically only 60% effective in the field…
“Officers who then resort to multiple applications of a ‘drive-stun’ make a serious tactical error against pain-resistant EDPs, agitated-chaotics, or drug-influenced subjects, who feel no pain from the device. Those officers find themselves in close proximity to an actively resistant subject, and they cannot use their impact weapons for obvious reasons. So what can these officers do next when seconds matter?
“They should consider the carotid restraint control hold.
“The carotid restraint control hold gives officers a viable method for controlling subjects when other force options may not be justified, effective, or available.
Quick and Effective
“The carotid restraint is a valuable force option that does not rely upon pain compliance, blunt force trauma, or multiple applications of electronic energy (referred to as ‘load’) from electronic weapons. When applied by a competent end-user, the hold is quick and highly effective and is absent of any evidence of traumatic injury…
“Carotid restraint is very effective in controlling EDPs and subjects experiencing an agitated-chaotic event or presenting with excited delirium because the hold generates a painless unconscious state in 7 to 10 seconds. The ability to quickly and efficiently render an agitated-chaotic subject unconscious significantly minimizes the risk of in-custody death that often results from prolonged struggles…
Respiratory vs. Vascular Holds
“There are two types of neck restraint holds: respiratory and vascular.
“A respiratory neck restraint uses direct mechanical compression or pressure over the anterior (front) structures of the neck. This pressure causes asphyxiation by compressing the trachea and restricting the person’s ability to breathe. This type of hold should never be used by law enforcement unless lethal force is justified (my emphasis).
“In contrast, a vascular neck restraint (VNR) employs bilateral compression of the carotid arteries and jugular veins at the sides of the neck, which results in diminished cerebral cortex circulation. This abrupt reduction of blood significantly affects the ability of the cerebral cortex to remain in an ‘awake state’ and leads to unconsciousness.
“It is very important for end-user officers, law enforcement administrators, and the media to understand that when applying a vascular neck restraint, NO significant frontal pressure or compression is applied to the delicate structures of the front of the neck (my emphasis). If properly applied, the restrained subject should be free of unreasonable pressure to the front and rear of the neck, which might cause secondary injuries or death. Equally important is that the subject also retains the ability to breathe.
“The carotid restraint control hold is a vascular neck restraint. Sloppy or uninformed terminology and casual references by any individual to vascular neck restraints as a choke hold, a strangle hold, a neck hold, or ‘choking the subject out,’ serves only to confuse the goal of the restraint, the physiology behind it, and the desired outcome(my emphasis). The vascular neck restraint should always be referred to as a ‘vascular neck restraint’ or specifically as a ‘carotid restraint control hold.’ Don’t call it anything else…
“Initial certification training of end-user officers, mandated periodic update training, and updated policies and procedures are paramount for agencies authorizing this very practical, much needed and unique use-of-force option.”
You can read the entire article HERE in which it also goes further into current medical research about LVC.
Martinelli can be contacted HERE.
Every police agency needs to review their policies with regard to the use of force, how they are training their officers in using its various and varying degrees, and share this information with their community.
That’s what professional police do.
The Core of the Police Role