Use of Force: Police Officer Stories from the Beat

All incidents are based on actual incidents submitted by Officers.

Please visit David’s Site at for more information.Use of Force: Family Fight

In this incident Officers were dispatched to a family gathering in which one of the family members had too much to drink and was now causing a disturbance. As Officers know problem but if things go wrong the family members who called, will now turn on the Police.

Three Officers arrive on scene at the same time. Family members are pointing inside of the house saying the subject is inside. For obvious safety reasons, the Officers asked the subject to step outside and talk to them. The subject, who is obviously intoxicated, exits the residence and very loudly starts telling Officers how his family no longer wants him. Officers separate the subject from his family to prevent any further arguments from arising. The subject is a little loud but is complying with Officers and does not seem to be combative.

Officers have the subject sitting on the ground when his brother walks over and starts to tell the subject how many problems he has caused. As one Officer removes the brother, the subject becomes angry and stands up and starts to go after his brother. The first Officer grabs the subject and puts him back on the ground. A second Officer goes to assist the first Officer with detaining the subject. The first Officer is a strong Officer who works out with weights daily. The Officer rolls the suspect to his back in order to control the suspect. This presented a problem as the suspect now can use his arms and legs in his defense. The suspect is now kicking at the second Officer in order to keep the Officer away. The Officer yells to the first Officer to roll the suspect over on his stomach. The suspect is rolled over and then quickly taken into custody.

In this instance the first Officer does work out with weights and is in good shape but he lacks the basic understanding of fighting. He turned the suspect on his back which allowed him to use all four limbs in his defense. The second Officer realizes the problem and has the suspect turned back over where it is easier to control him. Basic training and understanding in ground fighting would prevent this problem. It is important that agencies train all Officers in ground fighting and teach Officers to communicate when trying to control a suspect on the ground.

Use of Force: Domestic Violence

It was another day on patrol when Officers receive a call of a domestic suspect who has returned to his residence. Anyone in law enforcement will tell you that domestic violence calls can be among the most dangerous. Officers had been out at the location earlier in the day and the husband had hit his wife several times and broke her nose. She now has called the Police and said that her husband had returned. She advised that she would be waiting outside to the front of her residence as she was too afraid to be around her husband.

The first Officer on scene contacts the wife to the front of the residence. His partner watches the residence from the front yard. The wife tells the Officer that her husband is inside that he does not like the Police, what a surprise! As the wife is speaking with the Officer her husband exits the residence. She immediately points at her husband and tells the Officer, that is my husband, be careful he likes to fight. The Officer calls for an additional unit.

The Officer and his partner approach the suspect from different angles making sure not to create a crossfire situation. The first Officer orders the suspect to place his hands on the back of his head. The suspect complies but as Officers approach, the suspect puts his hands down. Several orders to get the suspect to put his hands back on his head, work to no avail. The suspect’s hands are in view but he is not complying with orders. The first Officer approaches and grabs the suspect’s right arm. The suspect forcefully pulls his arm away from the Officer. The Officer uses a common Jiu-Jitsu/wrestling hold. The Officer grabs around the suspect by sliding his right arm under the suspect’s right arm and then grabbing around the neck of the suspect using his left arm. This hold is a modified carotid hold applied by using your arm on one side of the suspect’s neck and bring his should against his neck to apply pressure on the other side of he neck. This hold goes by many names, carotid hold, rear arm triangle, connecting the shoulder to the head.

The Officer sweeps the suspects feet and brings him to the ground and takes his back. The Officers partner immediately grabs the suspect’s free arm and places a handcuff on it. The Officer on the suspect’s back switches to a side control position, pins the suspect down and grabs hold of the suspect’s arm which he had control of. That arm is brought around the suspect’s back and he is handcuffed.

In this incident there were two Officers on scene. They were aware that the suspect was violent and liked to fight. Both Officers train in ground fighting and were confident fighting as a team. As a result the suspect was quickly taken into custody without Officers or the suspect being injured. Many agencies feel that if they train too much in ground fighting Officers will hurt suspects in the field, that the liability is too high. The opposite is true, the more you train the less likely it is that an Officer or a suspect will be injured in the altercation. It is important that agencies train all Officers in ground fighting and teach Officers to communicate when trying to control a suspect on the ground.

Use of Force: Drinkers

In this incident an Officer response to a call of subject’s drinking in a parking lot. This call should have at least two Officers but often one Officer arrives on scene first and often clears a call quickly. The first Officer arrives on scene and contacts a small group of subjects drinking. The group complies but as usual there is always one in the crowd who is a little too intoxicated. As always this subject wants to speak with the Officer instead of staying in the background.

After several attempts to have the subject leave the Officer determines that the subject is too intoxicated and decides to arrest him for public intoxication. The Officer places a handcuff on one hand when the subject decides he does not want to be arrest. The subject in not combative but will not put his hands behind his back. The suspect tries to turn around towards the Officer in order to plead his case. The Officer, who in this case weighs about 120 pound, tries to use a control hold, often called a come-along. In this hold Officers control the wrist of the subject and grabs behinds elbow of the subject in order to control his arm. The subject is much larger and continues to try to turn towards the Officer. The subject is not truly combative as he is just trying to avoid being arrested and plead his case with the Officer. The Officer does not want to loose his position of advantage and is still trying to apply the hold. As a result the Officer and the suspect are spinning around in circles in the parking lot. The second Officer arrives on scene and sees the Officer and subject spinning in circles. The second Officer grabs the subject from behind and takes him to the ground. Within a matter of seconds the subject is taken into custody.

In this case the first Officer tried a very common technique but the technique failed. Anyone who does any training will tell you that no technique works every time. If a technique fails then change to another technique. The more techniques that you have in your arsenal the easier it is too transition to another hold. To continue to try to apply a hold that is not working is an obvious lack of training on the Officers part. It is important that all agencies train Officers in ground fighting.

Use of Force: New Year’s Eve

It was new years eve and all Officers were working in two man units. It was just after 1 AM and the party calls were starting to come in. On this call several people at a party had called saying a subject at the party was starting fights with everyone. Seeing how most of the Police Units are spread thin on this night, dispatch decides to send one unit in particular. This Police consist of two Officers who each have extensive backgrounds in martial arts and teach arrest and control to officers.

While en-route to the call, dispatch advised Officers that several subjects are now in the street fighting. When Officers arrive on scene they observe several subjects fighting in the middle of the street. Upon seeing the Police all but two of the subjects run back into a house. The Officers call for back up and exit their vehicle. As the Officers are approaching the subjects, one subject is holding back the other. The subject being held back is obviously intoxicated and is yelling I don’t care if they are the Police I will kick their ass. Several people have now exited the residence and are asking Officers not hurt their friend, that he is only intoxicated. As we all know the Police are not there to hurt people but we also do not want to get injured. The Officers decide that it would be best to deal with the subject away from his friends and tell the friend to let go of the subject. Immediately upon letting go, the subject walks directly towards Officers. The subject tries to push one Officer by using both hands and push against his chest. The Officer grabs the subjects hand and does a arm drag on the subject, ending up behind the subject. The Officer applies an upper body control hold and brings the subject to the ground. The Officer communicates with his partner and tells him to watch the crowd while he handcuffs the subject. The subject is taken into custody and quickly removed from the area and transported to jail.

In this case, even though the Offices were well trained in fighting they did not let their egos get in the way and called for back up. They worked well as a team by communicating with each other in the confrontation. Although it does not seem like a major incident, this could have gone bad very quickly.

Submitted by:Jiu-Jjitsu Cop

All incidents are based on actual incidents submitted by Officers.

David Welp is 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.

Please visit David’s Site at for more information.

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