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Force Continuum protocols for Law Enforcement Officers
("LEOs") and how our DBMA training might relate to them.
A sample LEO Force Continuum Protocol:
1) Physical presence
2) Verbal commands
3) Empty-hand submission techniques
4) Intermediate Weapons e.g. closed-fist punches, kicks, baton, pepper spray, Taser, beanbag rounds and etc.
5) Lethal force.
The U.S. Navy teaches a six-step model: Officer presence, Verbal commands, Hard controls, Soft controls, Intermediate Weapons, and Lethal force.
Hard controls includes the use of tools such as hand-cuffs, while soft controls equates to empty hand above, describing techniques where the officer must engage resistance.
When escalating, voluntary submission to cuffs is a viable way to prevent the need for empty hand submissions, which place the officer and the detainee at physical risk.
When de-escalating, hard controls (ie: cuffs and isolation in the rear seat of a cruiser) give officers a reasonable and achievable goal after altercation with a detainee during which higher levels of force may have been required.
Recently, one local Department said that they had to respond to two gun calls. The first call turned out to be someone with a fake gun but the second call was in response to a man who wanted to kill himself and attempted to provoke an officer into shooting him.
Luckily the man was apprehended without any shots being fired and he was given the medical treatment he needed. The situation was de-escalated without the use of force.
This shows an incredible amount of courage by the officers involved (not to mention good guidance by their supervisors). Many others would have used a confrontational approach out of fear and lack of de-escalation skills to face someone with a deadly weapon.
DBMA training gives us the edge to solve difficult situations verbally, and non-lethally, by allowing us to have the courage to face danger with confidence and skill.
They were also discussing implementing a Taser program. The Police Chief responded that he agreed with Tasers in principle and he sees them as a valuable tool for less lethal enforcement but he does not agree with where the device falls on the force continuum.
He continued that by placing the use of Tasers directly after verbal commands, young officers might lose some of their verbal persuasion tools and rely too much on the Taser option.
The Chief concluded that while he agrees that the device would be useful, he would like to see it higher on the force continuum before moving forward with implementation. Very interesting!
Here is how DBMA training can apply to the Force Continuum Protocol:
1) Physical presence- this is "the Courage to Step Up."
2) Verbal commands- de-escalation, or forceful language ("STOP!" Must be practiced so it can be done under pressure.); voluntary submission to cuffs is a viable way to prevent the need for empty hand submissions.
3) Empty-hand submission techniques- Our weapons awareness training (stop and frisk weapons pat down); dumog type movements.
Another point is that our training gives us the confidence to solve problems verbally, to de-escalate, and to avoid conflict. Engage the community; be proactive, not responsive.