Police Tactics: Stories from the Street

We’re pleased to have David Welp on the writing staff of OntheMat.com with his contributions on using Jiu Jitsu and Grappling in real world situations. David Welp is a world-renowned martial arts expert and a Southern California Police Officer who trains new recruits in the proper way to survive in the field. His experience and training has allowed him to become a Field Training Officer, a much respected position that concentrates on training new recruits in survival techniques.

He has been active in the martial arts community for almost 30 years, teaching and fighting professionally in a number of styles including Tae Kwon Do, Kuk Sool Won (a joint manipulation style of fighting), Jiu-Jitsu, and Mauy Thai Kick Boxing. Mr. Welp has competed professionally in Mauy Thai Kick Boxing throughout the United States for 16 years, has trained with top Jiu-Jitsu fighters out of Huntington Beach, and now privately trains police officers.

So it was another day on patrol like any other. Bored the majority of the time, just driving around looking for something a little better then someone jaywalking. It was the middle of the day and the majority of the citizens were still at work. Driving down a residential street the Officer sees a vehicle stopped in the middle of the road with its hazard lights on. Stopping behind the vehicle the Officer exits his vehicle to check the vehicle to see if it is broken down. Checking the vehicle and immediate area no one is found. Looking up and down the street the Officer observes that there is no parking anywhere on the street. The Officer takes out his cite book and starts to write the citation. At this time a subject (Lets call him John), exits his residence and as he approaches the Officer he asks what are you doing to my car. The Officer asks John if his vehicle is broken down. John, very angrily tells the Officer that there is no parking and that he should be trying to find real criminals. The Officer tells John to relax, that he will be getting a parking citation and that he can then move the car. John who is no longer listening to reason yells, you are not going to cite my car. Realizing that things are not going well the Officer reaches for his radio and calls for backup.

Not knowing if the subject is armed or under the influence, the Officer orders John to place his hands on the hood of the car. John complies but is visibly upset. The Officer approaches John and tells him that he wants to pat him down for weapons. John places his hands on the back of his head as the Officer starts the search. As the Officer reaches around to the front of John’s waistband, John pulls his hands away from the Officer and reaches down towards his waistband. Not knowing if John is going for a weapon, the Officer grabs around Johns neck using a single arm carotid hold and with his free hand grabs John’s hand, stopping John from reaching his waistband. John is quickly pushed against the hood of the vehicle stopping him from reaching his waistband. Now the Officer uses his other hand to complete the carotid hold.

Not wanting to go to the ground with John because the Officer does not know if John has friends in the area, The Officer holds John in the carotid hold but not applying the hold to the point of making John pass out. John is now trying to escape the hold by reaching back and pulling the Officers hand from behind his head. The Officer is keeping his weight on John, pinning him against the hood of the vehicle waiting for back up. In the distance the Officer can hear sirens approaching his location. The Officer realizes that Dispatch has been calling wanting to know if he was alright and due to him not responding, all units in the area were now responding code 3.

As the sirens get closer that officer decides that the best position of advantage will now be with the suspect on ground with the Officer in a position of advantage. The Officer sweeps John’s feet sending him to the ground with the Officer on John’s back. The Officer can hear the sound of the Police cars arriving on scene and Officers putting out on the radio, Officer involved in a fight. The next thing that happens is there are four Officers who are trying to help control John. The Officer instructs his partners to each grab a limb (arm or leg). John is then able to controlled and handcuffed and taken into custody. There is no weapon found on John.

There are many things that we can cover regarding this incident, should the Officer have gone hands on before back up got there? In this case the Officer is an experienced martial artist and has confidence in his skills. I do not Monday morning quarter back this incident but prefer to cover the hold and communications portion of this. The Officer used a good control hold that could be elevated to what ever level he wanted it to; especially thinking that John is going for a weapon, possibly a handgun. The Officer kept his advantage by keeping John against the car and not going to the ground immediately as this would have made him vulnerable by not being able to watch his back. Once on the ground the Officer communicated to other Officers what he needed them to do instead of everyone just jumping in. This made it easier to control and handcuff the suspect.

Constant tactical training and open communications is a must for all Officers.

Jiu-Jitsu Cop

This event is based on an actual incident involving an Officer

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David Welp