Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally out of the classroom … defensive tactics

The above video makes you think twice about not obeying a police officer, huh?

Unfortunately, police officers often find themselves in a situation where talking and reasoning will not resolve a problem. And sometimes it gets physical.

The sixth week of the Central Texas Police Academy helps the cadets deal with these situations by teaching them defensive tactics.

“It’s awesome to be out of the classroom and not sit for eight hours straight,” said recruit Danny Ohana with the
Texas A&M Police Department.

After five weeks of continuous and mind-numbing class work (see previous blog posts), the students finally get to relieve some of their pent-up energy.

“The first day of defensive tactics is really all about mindset,” instructor Larry Frye said. “They have to understand that they’re going to get into fights in law enforcement. They’re going to face resistance and they’re going to have to come out on top. My responsibility is to make sure these people all get home at the end of their shift.”

Throughout the week the cadets continuously built upon their defensive tactics repertoire. The training was based off of Pressure Point Control Tactics, or PPCT. PPCT started out as only pressure point tactics, but evolved into a whole range of defensive tactics to include:

- handcuffing
- basic movements
- defensive counterstrikes
- pressure point control
- joint locks and take downs
- baton applications
- shoulder pin - a type of vascular restraint
- weapons retention and disarmament

After they learn the maneuvers, the cadets get a chance to face real-life situations against seasoned police officers who posed as the bad guys. All were wearing protective gear, but more than one bloody nose surfaced from the action.

“It’s very good for a cadet officer to get hit so when they get out on the street they don’t freeze up or it’s not a surprise,” said officer Paul Brown of the
College Station Police Department.

Each encounter is constantly monitored and after each one, the instructors review the scenario with the cadets, discussing what went right and what went wrong with each scenario.

“We would rather the students make their mistakes here than when they get out into the real world,” said Mr. Santo.

Many times, emotion controlled the cadets’ actions. The drills are designed to help them get a feel of how their body and mind will respond to the situation.

“They have to learn to control their anger because they are accountable for everything they do, especially in this day and age where everyone has a camera and video capabilities on their cell phone,” Brown said. “You have to be conscious of what you are doing and how you are doing it. It doesn’t mean somebody is not going to get hurt, but your goal is to get them under arrest without causing injury.”

“Police officers are responsible for everything they do,” Brown quickly added. “If you go to kick someone to take them down and you miss and hit someone in the crowd, you are responsible for that. There is a very high level of accountability on the police officer’s part - way more accountability than a regular citizen.”

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