THE TEAM ARREST TACTICS PROGRAM
Posted on February 20, 2011 by Mike Malpass
If you are reading this blog, then you probably got to this page from Kevin
Secours’ blog page or from the Systema Canada YouTube page.
(www.combatsystema.com) My thanks to Kevin for showing an interest in the
program and for helping promote the idea. I developed the Team Arrest Tactics
program around six years ago, after several federal rulings came out against
officers who immediately went to strikes in order to solve the problem of a
resistant subject who refuses to comply with handcuffing and is hiding his hands
underneath his body while lying face down on the ground. The subject may be
forcefully moving his body back and forth, but is not actively trying to assault
the officers involved in the arrest. To be clear, if the subject is actively
assaulting officers, then strikes are certainly a good way to gain control by,
first, causing dysfunction, and then, using restraint tactics in order to get
the suspect into handcuffs. However, with the subjects who are resisting arrest
but not assaulting officers, resorting to strikes is not the most efficient way
of gaining control and compliance. While doing the research for the Team Arrest
Tactics program, I was speaking with officers from all around the country and
finding the average number of flashlight, knee and hand strikes to the arms,
back of shoulders and thigh area, to be 15-40 strikes in order to gain
compliance. At that time, this was an informal and unscientific study, but the
concerns of the federal judges supported these statistics.
I have several issues with strikes being the first line of defense for
dealing with a resistant but non-assaulting subject. First, while the various
strikes are being delivered, the suspect is unrestrained and is able to freely
move to defend the strikes, and if he chooses, to begin assaulting the officers.
Second, multiple strikes from multiple officers does not pass the headline
test. To the average civilian, it looks like a savage attack on one non-violent
man by several violent police officers. It does not really matter that they
wouldn’t know a good use of force from a bad one because perception does matter.
The problem at the time was that officers (including myself) were trained to go
to strikes, if, after a “reasonable” amount of time, you were not able to get
the hands out for handcuffing. Of course you were on your own to decide what
would be a “reasonable” amount of time. The officers involved in the court
cases in question acted within the boundaries of their training and within their
agencies’ guidelines, so the issue was not excessive force. The rulings usually
revolved around agencies seeking a better first procedure to gain compliance
before resorting to strikes. From this starting point, the Team Arrest Tactics
The Team Arrest Tactics program is a mixture of old school Catch-as-Catch Can
Wrestling, Naban Grappling, the Bando Python System and Russian Sambo. The idea
was to see if compliance could be gained quickly from a resistant subject by
inducing multiple points of pain compliance while inhibiting the subjects
ability to take in a full breath. Keep in mind the subject can breathe, they
just cannot take in the lungful of air necessary for strong bursts of strength
and power. It took around six months of experimentation and the generous
support of a handful of police officers who were as interested as I was to see
if we could generate some good ideas. This translated to my friends being
poked, prodded, twisted, grinded, cross faced and wrapped up like a Christmas
gift in order to find out what works. We ended up with a program that was
taught in a training module to every officer on my department. Then, it went on
to be presented to several other agencies’ specialty details (usually those
involved with fugitive apprehension). It’s a fun program that is easy to learn
and easy to use. My favorite part of the program is the pace you practice it at
is the exact pace to use on the street. The pace is slow and deliberate every
I did read one post asking if there was concern about restricting breathing.
Positional asphyxia is a concern in any arrest situation, but most documented
cases come from a prisoner who is already handcuffed and is still combative. At
that point, the subject was then “hog-tied” by placing him in leg restraints and
connecting the leg restraints to the handcuffs. That places the subject face
down on the ground with their legs pulled up behind them and attached to the
handcuffs preventing most movements. The Team Arrest Tactics program does place
the subject in a similar contortion, but once compliance is gained and the cuffs
are on, he is removed from that position. If he is still combative, then a long
line is used to connect a leg restraint to the handcuffs, but the subject is
able to sit with the line attached and is not placed on his stomach. The
subject is also continuously monitored to make sure he does not roll onto his
stomach and stay there.
The program is designed to inhibit a full breath,
but not to prevent breathing. The position is uncomfortable, but in the
majority of cases, it is the various forms of pain compliance (which are subtle
and not obvious to the average passerby, thereby, passing the headline test)
which cause the subject to give up his hands for cuffing. In only a small
number of uses have the subjects been able to resist the multiple points of pain
compliance. In these cases, they still gave up due to exhaustion within forty
five seconds. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding the program.
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