Tag Archives: Police culture
Use of Force is the Core of the Police Role
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.
Posted by my Brother in Blue from across the Pond – Nathan Constable
It’s not like me to struggle for words when it comes to writing a blog but on this occasion I really am.
This blog is primarily meant to be about UK COPS, the superb work it does and the phenomenal strength shown by the survivors.
And yet – there is a theme around this that I am finding hard to verbalise. A theme I am almost uncomfortable in raising but raise it I will in due course.
Yesterday we gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire for the major event of the UK COPS schedule.
It is such a wonderful, fitting venue. There are various sections within it for the different armed services but there is also “The Beat.”
This avenue of trees, within about 50 years, is going to look incredible. It is here that each force has its own tree alongside individual trees, planted by surviving friends and family, for many named officers who have lost their lives too soon.
Even now, in its relative infancy, when you look down this space and consider its scale and its simple beauty ….. Well, it couldn’t be more suitable nor more aptly named.
This year everything, including the trees, was a little bigger.
The Police Unity Tour who had cycled from London to Staffordshire, raising £40,000 for the charity, was at least twice the size it was last year in numbers.
The Blue Knights – well, their convoy just didn’t seem to stop.
The turnout – UK COPS say it was their biggest ever and I think a couple of the organisers were surprised and delighted in equal measure.
During the service we heard from several survivors, each giving a different perspective on their tragic experience, the loss of their loved one and the gaping hole left behind.
Then there was hope in their stories as they recounted how the charity had supported them and how it continues to support them.
How they have developed a network which allows people to support one another.
They cannot replace – but they can rebuild.
Once again it was the voice of youth which carried louder and stronger than anything else.
Last year, Nathan Dent’s words reduced those gathered to tears.
This year, a remarkable young lady – Vicky Moore spoke bravely and eloquently and gave us all serious food for thought.
Vicky’s father, Bryan, was a Leicestershire officer who was killed by a drunk driver in 2002. Vicky was ten at the time and she told us of that fateful night when she learned of the news and how she had then spent the rest of her childhood without him.
My son is ten. He and the rest of my family joined me for this years service and he heard Vicky speak.
He got it. He understood – as well as any child can – what Vicky was saying. He had made the association in his head that she was his age when she had lost her father. When he started asking me questions afterwards it sank in even further for me as well.
Then it dawned on me – this theme I am struggling with and it was this…
There should be more people here.
Vicky said that she didn’t understand the hero her father was and regrets that it is now too late to tell him how proud she is of him.
Vicky then said this:
“It shouldn’t take stories like ours for other people realise the sacrifice in police work.”
This struck me hard and I dwelt on it.
The service later heard from Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer from Cleveland who said that although she had sadly lost colleagues and friends during her service “to my great shame I just assumed that the families were supported.”
CC Cheer spoke of the work of the charity and how, unfortunately necessary but essential it is.
It hit me again – there should be more people here.
I have spent the last 24 hours wondering why there weren’t more people there and I think there are a few reasons.
First and foremost is lack of awareness. Lack of awareness of the charity and its work but also lack awareness of the events which necessitate it’s existence.
We should all be grateful for the fact that the death of a serving officer, on duty in the United Kingdom, is a rare event. Rare enough for very few of us to have experienced it in our service.
But it is not so rare that there are not many people who are struggling with the aftermath of exactly that event.
UK COPS exists solely to support these families but I am going to be blunt:
The POLICE family needs to step up to the plate.
It has become almost unfashionable to talk about “the police family.”
The police, as an entity, has taken a sustained reputational beating for the best part of two decades and has spent so much time looking outward that it is in danger of forgetting to occasionally look inward.
We should all strive to uphold and maintain the Peelian principle that the police are the public and the public are the police but we must never forget that there are some who are prepared to put on a uniform and who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for doing so.
Putting on that uniform makes you stand out. It means you can’t run away from trouble – you run towards it. It is a vocation and a calling.
We should never put on that uniform without remembering what it means, what it represents, who it protects and why it is there.
But we should never put on that uniform without remembering that others have put it on and paid a heavy price for it. They are our family.
And we should never forget those they have left behind. They are our family as well.
In her oration, Chief Constable Cheer said “I ask colleagues to ensure that we actively spread the word about COPS and fully support the charity.”
Over the course of the next twelve months and every twelves months after that – we must rise to that challenge.
It is the duty of each force to promote the work of the charity and ensure it’s long term survival.
It is the duty of each force to ensure that COPS can continue it’s essential work supporting the families of those who have worn their uniform and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Those families have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well and need and deserve that support.
However, it is also the duty of each force to support the work of COPS and indeed the PD Trust and Police Memorial Day by reminding serving officers of those who have gone before them.
The military gets this right – I am not yet convinced that the Police are in the same league.
It is right and proper that a senior ACPO officer from each force attends the COPS service and pays respects on behalf of their force. This should never change.
But wouldn’t it be fitting if each force could send a small contingent of regular officers, special constables, PCSO’s and – absolutely – Cadets to attend the service.
Wouldn’t it be fitting if the Police Federation could gather it’s Rep’s on mass – in uniform – to support the cause.
Would it not be helpful for each force to publicise the event on whatever internal communications systems it has and invite officers to attend and represent that force.
If each force sent a carrier with 7 people in it that would be over 300 officers for a start.
Wouldn’t it be brilliant if we could actually encourage our officers to attend and support the event.
We can mobilise officers to deal with anything the world can throw at us.
It should not be beyond us to mobilise for this.
Social media is a powerful tool but it is not enough. This needs active drive from the very top.
We need to promote the charity, it’s work and it’s events. It should be something we just DO.
We should do it and we should not feel guilty about it.
These were our colleagues – they left behind their families. Those families are our family. The police family.
The UK COPS service is a wonderful event which is going from strength to strength.
With some solid support from all quarters and if CC Cheer’s request is acted upon by her peers then the event, like the trees which line “The Beat” at the Arboretum, will grow and mature into something truly magnificent.
Pictures courtesy of NPAS Ripley and “Bullshire Police”
A second, shorter blog on the Guard of Honour and #100Cops will follow in a few days
UK Cops – From Small Acorns Do Great Oaks Grow
I was once asked if this picture showed a tactic for launching officers into a crowd.
I shook my head then smiled – “No” was all I said.
But wouldn’t it be cool?