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Emotional Survival For Law Enforcement
Kevin Gilmartin
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Daniel Goleman
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Anger Management
For Dummies


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Jonathan Haidt
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"Because they stand on a wall
and say 'Nothing is going to hurt
you tonight ... not on my watch.'
                    A Few Good Men

 

LEO, Corrections, Security, Bouncers
(and other violence professions)

On this page:
Complexities of Force | Pain vs. Injury and Why Pain Is Unreliable | Control Presence | Defensive Tactics* | Postive and Negatives rights * | Violence Comes in Different Flavors | Violence NEVER Solved Anything ... Oh Yeah? | Weapon Disarms

A violence professional is any individual whose job duties will -- on necessary occasions -- require use of force. It's just part of the job. While the primary purpose of these jobs are usually safety and prevention, the idea is if there's going to be violence focus it on the violent professional. When everyone else is backing away, violence professionals are moving forward and barking, "Hey! Over here."

We often say "90% of all situations can be deescalated, but that still leaves the 10%." That 10% can happen anytime and under any circumstances, so you better plan for it. That is why this hub is divided into two categories, Control Presence and Defensive Tactics. Think of them as "street psychology" and "what to do when street psychology needs a little extra help."

Complexities of Force
Let's start out with a raw truth about use of force.

From a physical standpoint, killing someone is easy. I'm talking just pulling a trigger or knowing where to stab 'easy.' In fact, it's really not that complicated to kill someone just using your hands and the environment. (That's mostly knowing how to set up the physics so the person shatters instead of bounces.) Along these lines, breaking bones and maiming someone doesn't require a Ph.D. Same thing goes with hauling off and smacking someone who isn't fighting back. While we're on the subject of easy, running away is pretty easy too.

On the other hand, 'fighting' is physically harder. That's because you're encountering active resistance as the two of you contest over something or the other. Usually at, or close to, the same level of force. (In sports fighting there are weight divisions and classes to ensure 'equality.') Fighting is also more complicated -- unless you're using the 'stand there trading hits until someone gives up' strategy-- than what we were talking about earlier. There are the complications of strategies, tactics, techniques, physical conditioning and, of course, Mr. Murphy and his law. Having said this ...

Of any use of force type, the most difficult is restraint and control without causing injury. This is compounded when that person is trying to escape or on the fight. Oh, and while we're at it, doing it without you getting injured or losing.

On top of knowing how to scale force, the hardest and most sophisticated level of force is required by your job. Sure tazers, spray and dogpiles can act as a short cut in many incidents. But the bottom line is you're going to be called on to do this.

Now we bring in other complications.

Start with the rise in civilian disrespect of authority. By this I mean the attitude of, "I have the right to argue with you and while we're at it, you don't have the right to tell me what to do." (It's particularly adorable when it goes to the extreme of "You don't have the right to arrest me!"). Then mix in the narrative of how brutal and oppressive the police are. The more traction that myth gets, the more the public demand you not even cause pain. Oh and while we're at it, you're wrong for using force on someone. For example, I recently watched the outrage over an officer tackling a mentally ill woman before she walked out onto the freeway. (Stop and think about that one for a second. There is breath-taking agenda and willful ignorance on display.)

These are horrible conditions to try to operate under. Made even worse because there are certain subconscious assumptions that will leave you trying to 'fight' a resisting suspect instead of ending it effectively.

This is a deep subject and I ask you bear with me for the moment. I'll explain as fast as I can. We humans are social primates. Whether you call it 'we are designed' or 'we're wired' to function in groups. Despite what society and current ideology has to say about it, this wiring includes fighting behaviors. We're wired for conflict and violence. If we weren't our species would have gone extinct over a hundred thousand years ago.  The most complex of these behaviors are over 'social issues' inherent to being part of a tribe/group.

For example. There are many reasons to use force. The type of force your job requires most is rule enforcement and stopping unacceptable/ dangerous behavior. You may not have thought about in these terms. Now that it's been pointed out, it's probably a "No Duh" issue to you.

But, consider the implications of the following: Many civilians don't judge a use of force in this context. They're thinking in terms of punishment and bullying. Uses of force they are more familiar with. They judge any use of force by those standards, not the situation. Then they start adding extra layers of beliefs and morality. They don't see the officer tackling the mentally ill woman to keep her from walking onto the freeway, they see a White male cop tackling a Black woman for 'no reason.' And while they're at it, he should have talked to her instead.

I give you that so you can understand many people's views on physical force. But also so you can look at our default conflict behaviors in a different light. They play a much bigger part in use of force than many people recognize, including the people using that force. We'll go into it more in a bit, but for right now, know these 'human defaults' not only get in the way of you being effective, but they make it look like you're using excessive force. More importantly, they increase the chances of injury for both of you.

Then comes the other complication of recognizing when it's time to stop trying for arrest and control and shift gears into survival mode.

Pain vs. Injury and Why Pain Is An Unreliable Motivator
Let's start by pointing out that most people don't recognize there is a difference between pain and injury. This is a problem for you being judged over any use of force. And by judged I don't just mean by the department or in court, I'm also talking about 'Trial by Twitter' and Youtube.

People not knowing applies to more than just the general public, it also applies to lawyers, journalists, protestors, bloggers and even administration (Please note, those listed do qualify as people.) While the assault and battery laws in your state may not make a distinction, in practice there's a simple rule of thumb.

Pain hurts, injury requires a trip to the E.R.

It requires some specialized circumstances, but you can inflict great pain without injury. Tasers, pepperspray and knowing where to poke can and will inflict great pain, with minimal to no injury (Acknowledging that certain health conditions, mental and chemical induced states complicate this statement.) More commonly pain can be caused without serious injury. For example control holds and joint locks can be painful but not require medical attention.

However when you're controlling someone (whether a suspect to be hand cuffed, intervening in an incident, escorting out, or preventing harm to self or others) you'd think they're being tortured by all the screaming. Or to be more precise, they want you -- and the witnesses -- to think you're inflicting excessive force. If not punishing them because you're a sadist, racist or oppressor. Because that's how it's going up on Youtube.

Here's the problem, if you were seen 'fighting' the individual, this is going to be an easy sell. This even if you were completely within use of force guidelines of the department and law. This adds another layer of complication. You're not only working in the most complicated level of force, but you have to both effectively end resistance for everyone's safety and not injure the person. And all this while appearing professional. These days appearing professional means ending it quickly, but how do you do that without injuring the person.

This can be done by exploiting how the human body moves. (We'll go into that in this hub.) These are non-injurious and non-painful ways to quickly position someone so they can't resist and you can control them using appropriate level of force necessary for the situation. And yes, you can scale it down to drunk wrangling, or up to lethal force -- using the same core elements.

Here's the 'secret.' You fight smarter, not harder.

This requires a shift in your mindset though. On a level, bigger and deeper than most people are familiar with.  Humans have certain 'default fighting' behaviors.' When we are angry, frustrated, scared, tired or chemically altered we revert to these 'factory settings' (if you will). Here's the thing, these strategies are amazingly ineffective for causing injury. In fact, like two big horn sheep butting heads, these default behaviors have us 'attacking' in the exact way our bodies are 'designed' to take and resist force. These default patterns track all the way back to toddlers hit each other over toys.

I'm about to tell you a simple statement that is the tip of an iceberg. "Pain and emotions are motivational messages."

When we feel them, we are motivated to act. (Actually it's the accompanying adrenaline that is screaming, "Go!Go!GO!" When the pain/ emotion/ adrenalin hits us, that's where we go default -- unless we have something we've 'learned' is more reliable. Then we can choose that instead. Yes you can use factory settings or you can use others for different purposes.

So where am I going with all this? Simple, one of the defaults is we humans often seek to motivate someone to change his/her behavior through pain or the threat of pain. Again this is default and often the only thing age, maturity, socio-economic, culture and civilization do is refines how subtle or overt we are about doing it. Think of the Mom Look you grew up with. Was that a threat? More important, was it a message to change your behavior? Or else...

Under normal circumstances we don't have to threaten, it's when things aren't normal that we do. We do this to elicit a change in the other's behavior. Then, if the threat doesn't work, we up the volume. Again, if that doesn't work we will often inflict limited pain to show how serious we are. This usually works. The other person decides the 'profit is not worth the pain' and he 'folds.' Some people need pepperspaying and tasering before they decide 'too expensive' and stop misbehaving.

However, when the person whose behavior we're trying to change is committed to a course, that's when it turns into a fight. If the person's commitment is sufficient he can not only bull through the pain, but it can motivate him to attack/fight harder.

This 'pain tolerance' can come from many different sources. Yes drugs, booze, mental instability, but mostly, it's emotion, adrenaline and commitment.

The problem is if you were relying on pain to stop him, by the time you realize it's not working, you're in his kill zone. Sure you can try to up your level of force, even draw your gun, the question is do you have time? Or is he close enough that you're going to be trading damage? Even if you injury him there is going to be the time it takes for the injury to take effect and incapacitate him.

This is why exploiting his body's design is far more effective for quickly resolving use of force. It has the added benefit of as is not a default way of attacking odds are he won't recognize what's happening until it's over.

And it won't look like you were fighting him. All people see is a blur and he's down on the ground.

Control Presence
We have developed an aggressive de-escalation program we call Control Presence. It's a program that is designed to prevent violence from occurring Not because we're afraid of violence, but because like you, we hate paperwork and morning after aches.

Defensive Tactics
We have a bit of shocking news ... departmentally approved techniques have a habit of failing miserably. Well now for the bad news, defensive tactics isn't the only topic where ineffective movement is being taught. The thing is it isn't that the moves don't work ... it's that how the move is being taught doesn't work. Once you know how to fix what you've been taught, (specifically what was taken out) these moves do work. So you can do effective moves that will keep you safe and not get in trouble with the department. You're just going to need some wrenches, nuts and bolts and duct tape. Which we'll supply you.

Postive and Negative 'Rights'
Often the problem isn't with the original idea, but how people decide to take an idea and run with it. Postive and Negative rights is an idea that people haven't just grabbed and run with down the street; many were was last seen crossing the state line (with how far they take it). Oddly enough, most people haven't even heard of the idea. This even as they are being abused by someone who's twisted this controversial interpretation of rights. You've seen the idea of Postive and Negatives rights twisted if you've ever run into any of the following:
"I have the right to_____. But you don't have the right to _____" ,
"I don't have to ____, but you have to____",
" _______ (someone else's service or property) is a human right," or
"I shouldn't have to _________."
And of course, "You can't tell me what to do."
These twisted interpretation of rights a growing attitude in this society. One that get's people into conflict as more and more people believe it's their 'right' to _____. It's also an attitude that can get you beaten, killed, raped or arrested if you try on act on the idea.

Violence Comes in Different Flavors
As law enforcement officers you are going to see all kinds of violence. And 99% of the time the people involved will claim it was 'self-defense.' Many people don't know what 'self-defense' is because they don't understand there are different kinds of violence. Not only do different kinds of violence have different goals, but a person's actions have significant influence on whether or not the situation goes physical. This is a field guide to what you will see out there.

Violence NEVER Solved Anything ... oh yeah?
Politically correct thinking would have us believe that any kind of violence is wrong (first off they need to read the section as to what violence really is). Often these people use their pacifism as a self-righteous weapon, especially against those whose job it is to use force to protect others and keep the peace. Anyone who has had to use justifiable force (or currently uses it professionally) has dealt with the scorn and disrespect of those who contemptuously proclaim 'violence never solves anything,' as a put down. Marc wrote a blog to rebut this long standing cliché and how to answer when it is being used as an insult instead of wisdom.

Weapon disarms/Facing a Weapon
Unfortunately there are many people who have never faced a weapon in their lives telling you what works to 'save your life' when weapons are involved. The problem is that most of these techniques will get you killed. Or, if you're extremely lucky, merely hospitalized and maimed for the rest of your life. We take a hard look at the fantasies and the realities of Weapon disarms.

 

Return to top


Deadly Force Encounters
Loren Christensen
(Law enforcement, psychology)


Joint Locks
Rory Miller DVD
(Arrest control tactics, police, bouncers)


Legal Guide For Police
Constitutional Issues
Walker/ Hemmings
(Law Enforcement, Protestors)


Pain Resistant Attacker
Loren Christensen
(SD training/cop)


Advanced Body Language
Bill Acheson, DVD
(Non Verbal communication)


Street Stoppers, Sweeps & Throws
Loren Christensen
(MA, SD, street)


Emotions Revealed
Paul Ekman
(Face reading. microexpressions)


Effortless Combat Throws
Tim Cartmell
(MA, SD, law enforcement)


Warrior Mindset
Michael Asken, et al
(Mental toughness, Professional mindset)


Restraint, Control and Come Along Techniques
Alain Burrese, DVD
(Professional use of force)


Warriors, Living with Honor, Duty, Courage
L. Christensen, et all
(professional psychology)


Professional's Guide to Ending Violence Quickly
Marc MacYoung
(Bouncing, cops, use of force)


Cops and Paranormal
Loren Christensen
(Professional preparation)

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