Police and Grappling

First off – I would like to state that this article is merely to create a point of discussion. I am not a police officer and I respect those whose jobs put them in harm’s way. The point is to discuss the usefullness of grappling and defensive tactics training for police after the basics learned in the academy not to criticize the individual officers in these videos. Also, these videos contain real violence so if that bothers you don’t watch.

Police must often arrest suspects who do not want to be arrested. For every person who submits and goes quietly there is one who fights back. Perhaps they are drunk, high, or simply angry and running on adrenaline. In this situation, techniques based on pain compliance tend to either not work due to the analgesic effect of drugs/alcohol/adrenaline or they simply escalate the situation as the person will resist arrest more violently. Techniques based on body control and leverage work best.

Takedowns and grappling controls are safer for both officer and suspect and are much more legally defensible in court than beating someone into submission with fists, feet, or a stick. The following videos show situations where grappling training would have been ideal. Again, this is merely for analysis, not for critcism of police or the individual officers in these videos. They have a dangerous job and I appreciate they work they do.

This first video shows two British police officers who struggle to get control of a single suspect who is not a particuarly large man. They end up using pepper spray and getting the situation under control but only after a great deal of fighting. Judo and BJJ would have shortened this encouter considerably. For those of you trained readers, look for missed opportunities to apply techniques.

In this next video we see two Eastern European officers who simply refuse to engage and control the suspect. I realize laws differ from country to country but this situation could have been over much more quickly.

This last video is somewhat disturbing from both a civilian standpoint and from the officer’s standpoint. It is obvious that this officer has little defensive tactics training and does not want to engage hand to hand. The subject assaults him with a push and he responds by drawing his pistol. In my opinion this is an overreaction. Once the suspect calls his bluff, he gets away. Most likely because the officer realized that he had no justification for deadly force. A quick takedown to control would ended this situation more quickly and safely.

Brian Jones, PhD

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