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4 things for officers to consider when traveling by plane

Submitted by PoliceOne Staff

We’ve all read reports of plane passengers taking matters into their own hands and successfully thwarting the efforts of someone bent on causing a major disturbance in an aircraft. Have you thought about what you would do should you encounter trouble 30,000 feet in the air — and are you sufficiently prepared for that possibility?

Here are a few things to consider when it comes to air travel:

1. Close quarters combat

Do you practice close quarters combat techniques with an eye towards battling in a plane? Fighting in a crowded, tight environment poses unique and difficult challenges like restricted ability to move, little room for other passengers to get out of your way, a suspect’s immediate access to other passengers who could be victims of attack or used as hostages. Make sure you’re prepared to fight in that kind of environment. Those skills will come in handy not only on a plane, but in other tight quarters situations as well.

2. Restraint

Once you’ve controlled a combative suspect on a plane, are you prepared to restrain him? If for whatever reason cuffs aren’t available to you (not carrying them?), think creatively. For example, about a year ago, two off-duty California officers found themselves forced to deal with a combative subject on their flight back from a vacation. Once he was subdued, they used a belt to bind his hands while the other officer controlled his legs in the seat. If you’re not carrying cuffs or another method of restraint, think ahead about what you’re going to use to restrain someone if you have to so you’re not scrambling for an idea at the last minute.

3. Location

If you have the option to choose your seat, think strategically about what will work best should things go south. Front, back or middle of the plane? Aisle or window seat? There can be different lines of thinking about different locations (like front vs. back vs. middle. Some may say a rear position gives you a better overall view of the entire plane and will let you immediately spot someone getting up and causing trouble. Others may feel sitting in the front gives you better positioning to stand immediate guard over the cockpit area. Others may believe a middle position gives you quicker access to both the front or the back of the plane depending on where trouble flares up.) The point is to think about it and to plan ahead for your movement should something go wrong.

4. Scanning

Do you make an effort to walk to through the plane – like on a strategic trip to the bathroom on the other end of the aircraft – and scan people as you walk? Anyone look odd…overly nervous? Sweating? Eyes majorly scanning around? If so, take note of his or her location, tip off the air crew and keep the person’s location in mind.

Have your own travel considerations or strategies to add for other officers? Post them here and comment below.

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