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Ever heard of a Nor’easter? We bayou boys learned real quick out in the plains of West Texas.
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.
|Let’s be honest, there is no better example of a “love-hate relationship” than the daily interaction between street cops and their dispatchers. When things are going well, we love each other; when they’re not, tempers flare, attitudes take a nosedive and we temporarily hate each other.
Having spent time on both sides of the dispatch center, I’d like to make just a few suggestions for making life easier—and safer—for each other.
Mind Your Manners
When you key up that microphone, be mindful of your tone of voice; if you wouldn’t talk to your mother, your spouse, or your neighbor in that rude, sarcastic, exasperated tone, then why would you talk that way to your dispatcher?
This is where the “Golden Rule” becomes especially important. That call-taker is going to be your lifeline at some point, so talk to her in the same manner that you’d like her to talk back to you when you’re under stress.
Most “911” centers are chaotic at best, and there are going to be times when you’ll have to ask for information to be repeated, or you have to repeat your own transmission; after all, no system nor human is perfect. Take a deep breath and think before you speak.
Try To Provide Some Closure
Dispatchers spend their shift responding to crisis after crisis, but they rarely get to hear or see the outcome of their actions. This is especially important in critical incidents.
A friend of mine, a veteran 911 operator, once took a call from a handicapped woman whose apartment was on fire. The dispatcher heroically talked to the victim, keeping her calm and eventually helping her make peace with what would turn out to be her last moments on Earth. Neither the police nor fire department were able to save this woman, and the incident was traumatic for all involved, especially when we discovered that the fire victim was a relative of a police employee.
A crisis intervention team was activated, and all involved employees except for the dispatcher were invited to participate. No one even told the dispatcher that the woman had died; she had to read about it the next day in the paper. This was a simple oversight on the agency’s part, but it was devastating to that dispatcher.
Make sure that after the conclusion of each “hot” call (and even some of the funny ones) someone calls dispatch and lets them know the outcome. This gives the operators some much-needed closure, and helps make everyone feel a part of the same team.
Recognize the Stressful Nature of a Dispatcher’s Job
As cops, we think our job is stressful, which it is, but we often fail to recognize the consistently high level of stress inside that com-center. Remember, no one calls “911” when things are going well, so every single communication coming in and going out of dispatch is some sort of crisis.
A good dispatcher is highly aware that they are responsible for the clear, safe communication between you and the unknown, but 8, 10 or 12 hours of that atmosphere can get to even the most Zen-like personality. A kind word, a “thank you,” and the recognition that things can get pretty crazy, both on and off the street, can go a long way toward easing the stress in dispatch and improving dispatcher/cop relations. .
Be Vigilant & Informed About Officer Safety & Survival
Since dispatchers are often the key to an officer’s safe and successful outcome on calls, traffic stops, and other incidents, police dispatchers should study officer safety and survival tactics with all the enthusiasm of your average rookie cop.
Attend outside training courses (such as the Street Survival seminar), read law enforcement publications (both electronic and print), and stay abreast of officer survival news and information.
Call-takers should be allowed to ride along with FTO’s and supervisors who are willing and able to provide the dispatcher with an appropriate overview of officer safety from a cop’s eye view.
Get in the habit of seeking additional information for the officers before they ask for it, such as the previous incidents at the location you’re sending them to, the criminal history of the person they currently have stopped, and any other special knowledge you may have that will help the officers stay safe.
Know Your Dispatch Area
In the age of computer-aided dispatch, in-car computers, GPS and other technology, operators tend to rely too heavily on the screen in front of them, not in their knowledge of the officers’ coverage area. Get out in the car, go on ride-alongs, read the local crime bulletins, and spend time getting to know the streets, businesses, and hot spots of your jurisdiction.
Don’t rely solely on the computer screen to recommend who should go where. Get in the habit of picturing the area where you’re sending the officers, and then do what you can to make their response safer and more productive.
Recognize that you’re here to support the cops
As a sergeant, one of the biggest complaints I hear from officers is “the dispatchers act like we’re there to support them, not the other way around.” This is an age-old workplace dilemma: “Whose job is more important.” Dispatchers, we’re going to ask you to do things, call people, and answer questions that may seem absolutely frivolous or absurd to you, but they are important to us.
I once had a dispatcher who seemed aggravated every time I asked her to call inside and have a bank employee step outside during our usual rash of morning false alarms. Rather than complain to her supervisor or start a verbal “war” over the radio, I contacted her and asked if she knew why we had the employees come out to us rather than the officers going into the bank.
As I suspected, it turned out that she had never been informed about the officer safety procedures in false alarm response. Once she understood, she became absolute vigilant in her response to these and other potentially dangerous calls, and she turned out to be a great dispatcher.
Dispatchers need to recognize that their role is to support the officer on the street, to inform them, keep track of them and help them stay safe. And, remember, the “Golden Rule” I talked about works both ways.
Supervisors and managers
Supervisors and managers on both sides need to be willing to step in and provide opportunities for learning, team building — and yes, even some constructive “venting.” Like many workplace disagreements, the “us versus them” mentality often stems from simple misunderstandings. A veteran dispatcher can be one of a rookie officer’s best trainers if she is allowed to provide real-time feedback, and a veteran street cop can be invaluable to a new dispatcher who is trying to learn proper officer safety.
Constantly remind yourself and each other — that we truly are all on the same team —and then get in the habit of treating all of your teammates with the same courtesy and respect that you expect them to bestow upon you.
The love/hate relationship between cops and their dispatchers
About the author
Sergeant Betsy Smith has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience, retiring as a patrol supervisor in a large Chicago suburb. A graduate of the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety’s School of Staff and Command and a Street Survival seminar instructor for more than 9 years, Betsy is now a speaker, author and a primary PoliceOne Academy consultant. Visit Betsy’s website at www.femaleforces.com.
In my years of ministry, I have been with numerous people as they left this life to enter into eternity. None have called for their accountant or their bankbooks. They only call for their family members, friends, and their God.
At the end of life we all realize the only thing that really matters is our relationships. Ultimately, the most important is the relationship we have with our God.
God created a special garden He called Eden, and placed the first man Adam in it to take care of it (Genesis 2:15). The Garden of Eden literally means in Hebrew the Garden of Pleasure. The Prophet Ezekiel called it The Garden of God (Ezekiel 28:13). Our right purpose is to bring God pleasure, and unless we are doing this we are not really fulfilled in life. We properly exist to be a God-Pleaser.
There are three types of pleasers in the world:
I challenge you to gage every relationship by this criteria, “Is it pleasing to God?”.
Chaplain Ronnie Melancon
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