Saturday, April 15, 2006

Light Blue Gloves and Street Fighting

The Use of Force session at the Citizens' Police Academy was great! The presenters started with controlling and handcuffing a subject. It's harder than it first looks! They had an audience member cross his arms firmly and had four of us try to pull his arms away and put them behind him to be handcuffed--we couldn't do it. Then the police guys and their trainer showed us how to "persuade" arms to move, how to bring people down and fun and useful stuff like that. There are a lot of tricks to making people move how you want them which led into...

Street fighting, where we learned how to stay alive and get the best of someone who jumps us, regardless of whether we're buff (like the cops) or an ordinary person. We learned proper stance and some tricks to disable or prevent an attacker. The trainer ended up with blood on his arms and hands. It got on the mats. The police guys dismissed it as "training injuries" but we could see that cops play very rough with unwilling suspects! They demonstrated that it's necessary in order to control them, cuff them and get them into custody. One class member asked about the dangers of bodily fluids and whether the cops should be wearing gloves. The cops all popped out with light blue gloves that they carry, put them on and said, "Now, how would you feel if we advanced on you like this?" It was very threatening, looked like they were ready for surgery or something! We all agreed that it just wouldn't work out that well. And plastic gloves would be too slippery to hold weapons very well.

Then the police guys demonstrated their club. It looks small and fits onto their belt but expands out to a long wicked weapon. It conveniently folds back into a small length with a hard tap on the floor/ground. The cops in my new state use it to break knees. That isn't allowed in my old state, where the police hit a person on the thigh (which they demonstrated, ouch to the trainer) and his leg folded from under him and he was on the mat.

Next we talked about pepper spray, which they call "OC." They don't use Mace anymore because in high concentrations it can kill people. The cops all have to take a hit in the face with pepper spray in their training school, so they know how it feels and what it can do. Some people are highly allergic to it and have a bad reaction (their throat closes shut!) and for others it's like 100X Tabasco sauce in their eyes and face. Plain water doesn't stop the burning.

Another device that some of them try out as victims in the cop "boot camp" is the Taser. The Taser is a yellow gun about the same size as a cop's service gun but more squarish. There are square black cartridges that fit on the end and cost around $40 each, so it costs that much per shot. But you can get some extra mileage on a Taser and use it many times on the same subject, if necessary as long as the hooks are still in.

The Taser isn't like the weapon Stephanie Plum uses in the Janet Evanovich cute little novels. The presenter passed around some wicked fishhook things with a caution not to get our fingers stuck. The Taser shoots two hooks into a subject with thin copper wires attached. Nobody volunteered to be a Taser target and the cops said they break out into a sweat just thinking about taking another Taser hit, apparently it really hurts intensely but doesn't leave scars or residual pain or injury. So we saw a video of some real Taser take-downs (they're online but I can't access them from dial up at home). It looks very weird to have the thin copper wires shooting out. The victim cries out and drops immediately. The average length of the shock is 5 seconds but in some of the video scenes the police had to Taser the suspect again and again before they were subdued. The electricity goes between the two hooks, so cops can touch the person and cuff them without also getting a shock. As a demonstration they shot the Taser hooks into an aluminum target. When they were done zapping the target, we got a piece of the Taser wire which I brought home to show friends and family.

Next we talked about deadly force. Cops in my state are authorized to shoot if either a gun or a knife appears. But in reality they would judge the situation accordingly to imminent threat. The trainer and the patrol boss cop talked about knives and that knives can do more damage than a bullet because of the slashing and stabbing ways they can be used. They demonstrated how to use a knife and then how to defend against them. Then they talked about knife fights and how to stay alive. Also that even a table knife, a mop handle or fireplace pokers can be deadly weapons. Hopefully I will never have to use such information, but it was very interesting!

Finally we talked about guns, shooting and the police service gun. It's a Barretta 9mm and they loaded a couple guns with blanks (sort of like paint ball) and were shooting it inside the classroom, to demonstrate gun battles and staying in cover. It was very interesting and the trainer soon started to take off the rubber tips of the bullets because they cause welts when they hit.

Of course a class member just had to ask whether or not the police would shoot a 12-year old with a gun and the answer of course, would be "yes" to contain a situation. A child with a gun is just as dangerous as an adult. The cops agreed that it would be a tragedy but that they would have to take out anyone who was threatening with a gun (unless they dropped it when commanded to, of course). The cops acted out a training scenario: a person is threatening suicide with a gun held to their own head, the cop approaches to try to talk them out of it, but then the suicide shoots the cop point blank. It was so shocking that some people actually audibly sucked in their breath. The cops said that it affects the new recruits in the same way and reminds them to be more careful in situations like that.

After all of that, they passed around body armor. The cops on patrol always wear it even though it's hot in the summer. One said that when his wife kisses him goodbye she thumps his chest to make sure he has his body armor on! That was very touching and a reminder of just how dangerous a job this is. The cops in our city wear 25 pounds of gear on their belt and counting the body armor. Well, that's all I can remember about the four-hour Use of Force class. It was very informative and thought-provoking. I can't say that I'm ready for a knife fight or gun battle, though!

A really funny thing is that when BZ, Favorite Co-worker and I (yes, I was invited, which almost never happens!) were sitting at Starbucks the day after in my old state, a cop walked by. They were checking him out while I was trying to see what equipment he was carrying on his belt, whether he had a Taser. So they were teasing me about checking out his equipment!

No, he didn't seem to be carrying a Taser, unless they use a different brand in my old state. Have a great holiday weekend!


Blogger Seven said...

One of the scariest/weirdest calls I went on in my career was a threatened suicide that was holding a large sharp knife and slashing himself. I couldn't close-in because of the 'knife range' problem you described. He just kept slashing himself and daring me to kill him.
Finally he got weak and collapsed; we moved in and saved his life. Very bizzare; not much you can do if he wants to slash himself to death. Our only option was to keep talking to him. At the time tasers were very rare and we didn't have any in our dept.....

8:51 AM  
Blogger Aims said...

PBS you are going to be very scary with all this knowledge! Watch out anyone who's mean to PBS!! Have a great easter holiday x

12:01 PM  
Blogger deni said...

Sounds like you learned a lot and had an interesting time learning it.

Have a happy Easter.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Oh pooh PBS, you won't want these classes to end! Sounds very informative :)

3:20 AM  
Blogger sumo said...

Happy Easter and have a nice day...

3:27 AM  
Blogger That Girl said...

this all sounds so interesting for you to be a part of!

happy easter!

8:14 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

That was quite interesting.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Fizzy said...

I am with Aims on this one

You are obvioulsy enjoying your self loads and loads.

Have a Happy Easter

5:01 PM  
Blogger Grant said...

Sounds like a fun and informative time. I should volunteer so the fuzz will teach me all their tricks.

9:48 AM  

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