Officers undergo situation-control training

Men learn, practice pressure point, arrest techniques on each other

Blood stained Travis Young's cheek after he and fellow officers spent Tuesday afternoon sparring.

Mike Edwards lost the shoulder seam on his T-shirt, and a flap of material dangled below his bare chest.

Across the room, Corey Wagner and Jeffrey Carlson staggered about, punch drunk from a series of "stun" maneuvers they were practicing as part of a mandatory training for all Craig Police officers.

"Reminds me of the Metallica concert in 1996," Edwards said. "My ears are ringing so bad."

Cpl. Dusty Schulze watched his students with interest. He showed them how to deliver a punch without breaking their hands and how to escape from a suspect who grabs an officer's hair or clothing.

Schulze will spend three weeks in March training the whole department in pressure point control tactics (PPCT) and arrest control techniques. Each officer will undergo 32 hours of training to be certified by PPCT Management Systems, Inc. Schulze is a certified instructor of the techniques PPCT advocates.

PPCT researched the medical and legal implications of its use-of-force techniques. The company will provide legal representation and expert testimony for agencies that implement PPCT's training.

The training shows officers how to use a wristlock to escort a suspect. It shows them how to restrain a suspect who refuses to be handcuffed. It also teaches officers to defuse situations with guns in close quarters.

Though officers may not be in physical fights every day, they deal with unwilling suspects regularly, said Sgt. Marvin Cameron.

"How often do we touch someone?" Cameron said. "Every day."

Whether escorting a person out of a bar or taking a suspect into custody, officers need to know how to control resistance using the minimum amount of force, Cameron said.

"We use it daily," Cameron said. "We used it last night."

"It seems like once a weekend we get into something physical," Young said.

"We need to take the suspect under control without injuring them or us," Edwards said.

Young recalled an incident that took place in the kitchen of a suspect's house. Officers suspected the adult female was high on methamphetamine.

"She just freaked out on me and grabbed my shirt," Young said. "It turned into a wrestling match in the kitchen. We ended up taking her down and attempting to cuff her. But since she was on meth, she was stronger than two guys. She was out of control. Bad."

The stress of such encounters causes physiological changes that make them even more dangerous, Schulze said.

As heart rate rises and stress takes over the body, people experience temporary hearing loss, they lose peripheral vision, and retain almost no ability to perform fine motor skills.

Officers need close quarter tactics that rely on large muscle groups and officers need to use them fast, as a second nature reaction, Schulze said.

Fights on television stretch on for minutes, while actors carry out finely choreographed fight sequences.

In real life, fights last seconds, Schulze said. And with each passing second, more and more of an officer's strength is lost.

Although the optimum heart rate range is 115 to 145 beats per minute, human hearts quickly surpass that range when people are under stress.

"I can take a guy from sitting position to the mat, take him down and arrest him, and by the time we get back to the chair, his heart rate is over 150 because of combat stress," Schulze said.

And that's in a room of friends during a training exercise. When one adds a real life situation involving strangers and imminent harm, "that heartbeat just shoots through the ceiling," Schulze said.

Schulze teaches many maneuvers to give officers distance from combative subjects. During a stalking drill, officers pair up, and one pretends to be suspect who won't back off.

After shouting, "Stay back. Stay back," the officer delivers an angle kick to a pressure point on the upper leg. And Schulze explains why the toe needs to be pointing down, rather than up, when the kick is made. Otherwise, the officer could blow out a knee, he said.

The training covers five areas, including defensive tactics, handcuffing, the use of expandable batons, pressure point control tactics and weapon retention and disarming techniques.

When Schulze trained officers how to parry a handgun and take it away from a suspect, he reminded them that in most situations, the gun will discharge during the skirmish. He taught officers how to keep the gun to the side while wresting it away.

"You're more than likely going to lose some hearing in that event," Schulze said. "But you're going to go home and tuck your kids in that night."

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com

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