4 creative 'tricks' to keep you safe on patrol
There are so many tricks of the trade to defuse street encounters and advance investigations — what are yours?
Let’s return to creative law enforcement in 2014. This is a skill that appears to have been lost — or at least misplaced.
Sometimes it is a simple conversation to solicit a response to defuse an explosive situation. Other times it can be used to help further an investigation.
The following are things some ideas I either created or borrowed and now use in the officer survival classes I teach.
1.) The Contact Lens
We’ve all been dispatched to domestic violence calls and found upon our arrival all parties are wild with anger. Add the uniformed police presence and tempers quickly rise. Well, I had to find a way to divert the mood. The best way I found — and it does work — was to raise my voice and ask all parties to drop to the floor and start searching for one of my contact lenses.
Almost immediately the combative family members are looking together for the lens, which doesn’t actually exist. This also helps if an arrest needs to be done as the soon-to-be-cuffed individual is intensely involved in the search.
2.) The Ambulance Call
There was once a time that I was dealing with a guy who appeared to be able to bench-press a Buick. He was on the verge of going out of control and I knew a fight was just seconds away. I knew there had to be a better way to end this confrontation without having to get physical.
That’s when I remembered a scene from an old police movie. I took out my portable radio and “requested an ambulance for a horrible accident at our location.”
Then I hit the squelch button. I didn’t really make the call, but from where he was standing, it definitely appeared that I did. When he asked why the need for the ambulance, I advised him that it was being dispatched for him. At his size, the only way to stop him was a trip to the ER. He got my message.
Another time a most uncooperative individual was being aggressive and combative. He refused to remove his hands from his pockets and kept wandering around. Finally I informed him that if he moved again, he would be spending Christmas in a wheelchair (it was early December). He got my message, and the remainder of the stop went a lot smoother.
3.) The Possession Clarification
After I arrested an individual for possession of illegal narcotics, in order to get a quick roadside confession, I explained that there was no mistake that he was in possession of the drugs and he would be able to help himself if he chooses.
I asked him if the drugs were for him or to resell. The amount was not really up to the trafficking amount. Again I emphasized that possession was not the issue, it was his, and his answer could be for his benefit in my report. He thought about it and stated it was for personal use.
I got the confession and the conviction.
4.) No Sprechen Sie English
I once stumbled into two guys who wanted to fight anyone — it just so happened I was the person they encountered. As they approached me, I knew that my backups were on the way, but for the next couple of minutes anything could and might happen.
They were yelling at me in English and I immediately told them — in perfect English — that I do not speak English.
They looked at each other. When they looked back at me they were staring at my drawn H&K full-size USP .45 caliber semi-auto duty weapon.
Sheepishly they placed themselves prone on the ground as I simply waited for my backups to arrive.
What About You?
There are so many tricks of the trade we can use during street encounters. It could be the perfect wording or the manner in which the message is delivered. This is all about surviving the shift. It is about dealing with combative and aggressive individuals in a manner they understand and respond to.
It is about obtaining a successful conclusion to the encounter where no one gets hurt — and at the same time remain fully aware that the situation might turn deadly. You must be mentally prepared to do what you are trained to do if it becomes a “Not Today” moment.
Add your own creative “tricks” in the comments area below.