Body language and the value of critiquing

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by PoliceOne Managing Editor Scott Buhrmaster & In the Line of Duty


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Duty Sheet and Lesson Plan

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The video footage and duty sheet/lesson plan are from the "In the Line of Duty" video Volume 5 Program 1 - "Alabama Officer Assault/Body Language Part One"

See all of the In the Line of Duty videos at

The value of candidly critiquing situations in which an officer makes mistakes in an effort to teach other officers how to avoid those same errors is tremendous. Alabama Officer Rex Bishop, who is featured in this clip from In the Line of Duty, understands that.


“I can sit here and watch this traffic stop…and tell you a hundred mistakes I made,” Rex says. “I hope officers out here on the street can view this traffic stop and realize they’re probably making the same mistakes.”


It’s that kind of selfless evaluation and openness to using your experiences to help others that makes the thin blue line as strong as it is.


As you watch this clip, remember the value of body language. As Officer Bishop begins reading DUI suspect Randall Pouncey his rights, the offender shows clear signs that he is becoming increasingly agitated and potentially combative (signs which are explained in the accompanying In the Line of duty training guide). He conspicuously ignores what Bishop is telling him and after complaining that this DUI arrest will cost him his job, he turns and walks away, much to Bishop’s surprise. Bishop grabs Pouncey’s shirt, at which point the suspect firmly demands that the officer take his hands off him.


If you watch closely, you will see Pouncey take a slight step back, blading himself such that his left shoulder is facing the officer and his right arm is stiffened behind him—a pre-fight move. Seconds after making that shift, you will see Pouncey lean back slightly, raise his right shoulder and fire off a crippling right hook to Officer Bishop’s jaw, knocking the officer out before he had any awareness of a pending attack.


In hindsight, creating distance, implementing calming verbalization techniques while waiting for back-up support and a keen awareness that the suspect’s body movements and demeanor were signaling an attack would have been preferred.


Kudos to Officer Bishop and all those officers like him who work to help others learn from their experiences.





Scott Buhrmaster is a longtime contributor to, as well as former Publisher of Police Marksman magazine. He has also served as Contributing Editor for Law Officer magazine. Scott has been a member of the law enforcement training community since 1989, when he began work as Director of Research with Calibre Press, Inc., producers of The Street Survival Seminar.

Throughout his tenure at Calibre, Buhrmaster was involved with virtually every aspect of the company’s officer survival training efforts, from the planning, creation and marketing of the organization’s award-winning textbooks and videos to developing and securing training content for the Seminar. In 1995, he was named Director of the Calibre Press Street Survival Newsline®, an Internet-based officer survival training service he helped found. In less than five years, Newsline readership grew from 25 officers to more than 250,000 in 26 countries, making it one of the most popular training vehicles in law enforcement history. His efforts now focus on providing training and information to the nearly 400,000 officers worldwide who visit every month.

Prior to joining PoliceOne, Buhrmaster, who also serves on the National Advisory Board of the Force Science Research Center and stands as an active member of the American Society for Law Enforcement Training and the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, was President of The Buhrmaster Consulting Group, an international consulting practice for the law enforcement training sector and the publishing industry.

Contact Scott Buhrmaster

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