The forgotten piece of equipment: handcuffs

February 11, 2006

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Dr. Richard Weinblatt Weinblatt's Tips
with Dr. Richard Weinblatt

Tip: The forgotten piece of equipment: handcuffs

Many of us in law enforcement remember to maintain our firearms.  As a firearms instructor, I'm part of that group of trainers that has hammered the message home.  Unfortunately, few remember to check our less glamorous piece of equipment: our handcuffs. 

Most veteran officer's handcuff maintenance practices are a far cry from the those early days in the police academy when the newbie would continuously click the single strand through the double strand - over and over again.  It was true years ago, and I see it today in the police academies I manage.

Many officers who work for slower jurisdictions, as well as administrators who are not catching calls regularly like their patrol division officers or deputies, neglect to check their handcuffs until that day comes that they need them.  That's the point when it is too late.

All law enforcers, regardless of arrest volume or rank, should regularly check their handcuffs.  Like a firearm, the cuffs have parts that interact.  If one can't move, it'll affect the reliability of a vital tool.  Each time you check your firearm, you should inspect your handcuffs by doing the following:

1) Clean the handcuffs using a cleaning solvent.  Be careful not to use too much.

2) Operate the locking unlocking, and double-locking mechanism frequently to be sure of smooth operation. 

3) Swivel the cuffs around several times to be sure the double-strand has not become compressed together.  If it has, it could impede the pass-through movement of the single-strand.

4) Visually inspect your handcuff key to be sure it is not twisted or otherwise compromised.

By following this handcuff maintenance regime, your officer safety should be enhanced.


About the author

Dr. Richard Weinblatt is a criminal justice educator, former police chief, police media commentator and an instructor in multiple disciplines. He has earned Florida Criminal Justice Standards certifications in general law enforcement topics, firearms, defensive tactics, and vehicle operations, as well as instructor certifications for Taser, pepper spray, and expandable baton. He holds the Certified Law Enforcement Trainer (CLET) designation from the American Society for Law Enforcement Training (ASLET) and is a certified AFAA Personal Fitness Trainer. Dr. Weinblatt is Dean of the School of Public and Social Services & Education/Assoc. Professor of Criminal Justice at Ivy Tech Community College in Indianapolis, IN.  He previously served as Director of the Institute for Public Safety at Central Ohio Technical College near Columbus, OH, Professor and Program Manager for the Criminal Justice Institute at Seminole Community College near Orlando, FL, and Chairman of the Public Services Dept./Criminal Justice Instructor at South Piedmont Community College near Charlotte, NC. Dr. Weinblatt has worked in several regions of the country in reserve and full-time sworn positions ranging from auxiliary police lieutenant in New Jersey to patrol division deputy sheriff in New Mexico to reserve deputy sheriff in Florida and police chief in North Carolina. Dr. Weinblatt has written extensively on law enforcement topics since 1989. He had a regular column in Law and Order Magazine for a decade and he has also written for Police, Sheriff, American Police Beat, Narc Officer, and others. Dr. Weinblatt has provided media commentary on police matters for local and national media including CBS Evening News, CNN, MSNBC, HLN, and The Washington Post. Dr. Weinblatt earned a Bachelor’s degree in Administration of Justice, a Master of Public Administration in Criminal Justice, an Education Specialist (Ed.S.) degree in Educational Leadership and a Doctorate of Education. Weinblatt may be reached through

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