When it comes to violent encounters, we (The Police) start at a disadvantage. That’s right…We are the “underdog”, the “short stack at the table”, the “Cinderella.” The bad guy always has the jump on us….Why??
First, a guy who assaults a cop is wired entirely different than you or me. He most likely spent the majority of his life getting over on people and has no concept or concern about consequences. He feels neither guilt nor pity and is completely void of sympathy. The only thing that matters in his life is himself and “feeling good.” On the other hand, the least of our concerns are ourselves. We focus on our families and colleagues. We are professionals that have a lot vested in our career. The odds always favor the guy with nothing to lose. We have everything to lose!!! And unfortunately that can severely affect our mindset.
Second, the bad guy has more experience. A quick question; Who has been in more real fights? A) A Police Officer who grew up in a great home, in suburbia, and whose prior experiences with violence was limited to the frat house push matches and Steven Seagal movies (this is me) or B) A career criminal (I hear they fight sometimes in prison). These guys are more comfortable and better at violence than we are.
Last, is “intent.” The bad guy has in his mind a plan of action. This plan often includes an assault option that he has already approved in his mind. Therefore, his starting point is combat mode. In contrast, we spend the majority of our time serving the community and dealing with good people who need our help (this is especially true in small town departments). So, we need to throw that switch from our starting point of community service to true enforcement. This can result in costly hesitation.
So, how do we level the playing field??
Mental rehearsal is one option. Going through scenarios helps your mind prepare for the fight, thus limiting reaction lag time.
Have a commanding presence. In these situations, being a “nice guy” is way overrated. Be “no-nonsense” when dealing with individuals who make you the least bit uncomfortable. You can always go up the kindness ladder if necessary. Set parameters for their behavior in your mind. If they break them, act decisively, act first, and act aggressively.
Control the environment. Dictate their actions small and large. Their inability to comply with the simplest order may tip you off to future noncompliance. And again, always have the bigger team. Keep the ratio at least 2-1 in favor of the Blue Team. If you are the least bit uncomfortable, 3-1 is better.
Det. Ed Kane
Ed Kane is an Upper Saddle River, NJ Detective, Defensive Tactics instructor and a Self Defense Company Guardian Instructor
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