Cops and Robbers 2.0: Tips for taking on the 'big boys'

Men and women come in all different shapes and sizes, but female officers can still hone their training to overcome a few physiological differences


When you were younger you played cops and robbers, and you were always the cop. This was a really cool game because both boys and girls were cops and robbers, and everyone was around 10 years old and pretty much all the same size and strength.  Today, you're all grown-up and still a cop, but you are 5'2 and 115 pounds and the "robber" is 6 feet tall, 200 pounds. Yet you're tasked with the same job: capture the "robber.”  Men and women come in all different shapes and sizes, but there are some significant physiological differences that we should look at and adapt some of our tactical training to accommodate.

Here are a few suggestions to help keep you one step ahead:

1. Martial Arts 
Take a martial arts class and whatever additional hand-to-hand training that is available. In the academy you were taught the basics, from weapon retention to standing and prone handcuffing — maybe even how to grapple and ground fight. Without constant reinforcement and repetitive training, how do you expect your body to react?  In a stressful situation your body will react to the level that it has become habituated, which is also known as muscle memory. If you have the opportunity to build up that muscle memory with some form of martial arts training, you will be one step ahead.

2. Train How You Fight  
You always hear that mantra, "train how you fight,” but what does that really mean? Think about who you fight. Since we are in a male-dominated profession, we have plenty of training partners available to be the “big boys.” Sure, you can sharpen your skills among other female officers, but unless you patrol and investigate crimes only on Paradise Island where Wonder Woman grew up,  you will have  to arrest — and possibly fight with — the big guys. When you train, take on a big partner and let him know he will be doing you a disservice if he goes easy on you. If he gives you a good run for your money, it can save your or his life.

3. Use Your Perceived Weakness as your Strongest Asset
Use your communication skills to talk your way in or out of a situation as best you can. Some of the giants you may come in contact with might perceive your smaller stature as a weakness. In most cases, they let their guard down, so initiate your force up front and you may save the need to use greater force later. With their defenses down, you may have an opportunity to carpe diem, use explosive power and take down the bad guy. 

4. Command/Officer Presence
“Command presence” is a term you hear often, but what does it really mean? It is simply how you present yourself, your confidence, your knowledge and your appearance. Your command presence represents every facet of your physical appearance, the non-verbal skills you project, the sound of your voice and the words you use. It is the total package that commands respect!

The aforementioned tactical reminders are just what they are — reminders. As the years progress on the job we tend to forget the little things, so be cognizant and use those amazing skills that came to you from birth and from training. Remember, stay safe, have fun and get go get some bad guys.

About the author

Jean Kanokogi is a Special Agent with the General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General and has been detailed as an Instructor to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center's Behavioral Science Division.

Her investigative responsibilities included a myriad of crimes varying from white collar fraud to street level crimes. During her tenure at the GSA/OIG, she was assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force after the September 11, 2001 attacks where her duties included participation in the rescue recovery efforts at the World Trade Center. Prior to working with GSA/OIG, she was a US Customs Inspector and predominately worked on narcotic interdiction cases.

As collateral duties for GSA/OIG, Jean ran the Defensive Tactics and Use of Force programs. She holds a fourth degree black belt in Judo and is a former member of the US Judo Team. Jean obtained her B.A. and M.S. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, N.Y., and is currently in pursuit of her PhD in Psychology.

She can be reached at Jean.Kanokogi@GSAIG.gov.

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