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When Defensive Tactics Become "Offensive"

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  • When Defensive Tactics Become "Offensive"

    Back when law enforcement started calling subject control “defensive tactics”, it was assumed that cops would only use force if someone attempted to hurt them. Somehow, over time, it evolved into arrest and control situations where the officer actually had to make the initial contact. Of course, thats what the job calls for and therein lies the problem. With the total lack of respect for authority, as well as the so-called citizens “rights,” comes this common reaction known as “resisting arrest.”


    For something to be defensive, it would seem natural that someone was an aggressor and someone was a victim. In the purest sense, that is still true. Unfortunately there has been such an meteoric rise of reality fighting schools that the line between defense and offense has been blurred. In my earlier martial arts expriences, the term was known as “overkill.” This was the term used illustrate the overwhelming responses to a threat. The theory was to respond until you felt it was safe to discontinue. The threat would be neutralized and you could walk or run away and call the cops. Now, it is more common to see numerous methods for finishing off your attacker. From the UFC we have learned the phrase “tap out or pass out.” Cute. Or how about the military and the infamous “security shot,” referring to putting an extra round in the enemy just to make sure they are dead?

    No, I haven’t turned pacifist and I definately don’t turn the other cheek, but I am careful to teach my students, regardless of whether they are law enforcement, private security or civilians, that there will always be consequences to our responses. The idea that you can kill or maim an attacker, no matter how justified you feel you are, needs to be carefully examined.

    Law enforcement generally operates on a force selection based on threat/resistance levels. It was called a force continuum or matrix. There was a complicated, and usually unattainable, series of responses that were recommended for different scenarios. Unfortunately, officers never knew how much force would be necessary to end the confrontation until it was already well under way. Trying to remember what level you were at, while fighting with a mutant, was pretty inconsistant with natural self defense instincts. We have now begun training officers to recognize the “totality of the situation” and respond accordingly. In other words, the size disparity, age, sex, location, weapons, etc. that were present would be the factors that dictated the best response.

    Those same factors need to be addressed in the private self defense training as well. Regardless of how justified you believe your actions to be, you will always be accountable. Is it always fair? No, but it is a fact of life. It’s very easy for some instructor to tell you what you should do, or what he/she would do in a given situation, but ultimately you alone will answer for your actions.

    What is defensive and when does it become offensive? Depends on the jury I guess. Of course, when your life hangs in the balance, survival trumps political correctness!
    Jerry
    http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

  • #2
    I think it remains the same. Offense is still the person doing the attack, and defense is the one defending. Sometimes police have to be offensive, to do their job, like you mentioned.

    I think the big question is the moral "rights and wrongs" about offense and defense.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Nauticus View Post
      I think it remains the same. Offense is still the person doing the attack, and defense is the one defending. Sometimes police have to be offensive, to do their job, like you mentioned.

      I think the big question is the moral "rights and wrongs" about offense and defense.
      My little play on words was meant to point out the fact that perception is reality, especially when force is needed and used.
      Jerry
      http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by jmaccauley View Post
        My little play on words was meant to point out the fact that perception is reality, especially when force is needed and used.
        My bad, then. Right over my head.

        Comment


        • #5
          "Reasonable Force"

          There is a bit of subtlety here but then again not.

          There is a continuum of force but the problem is that outside of law enforcement, there is little training as to what that is. Most people are trying to flee and not necessarily stand toe to toe in a fight. They are fighting, however to flee. The use of force cannot be "abusive". This conjurs up all kinds of visions of what that is and that is exactly my point. You have to be guided by policy/procedure and training but in the middle of a fray you don't want to have to be thinking about which page that was on.

          This is an often tried point in court especially in motel and bar environments, retail, and event security. The plaintiff has a good chance to prevail because there was little or no training other than the basic State mandated level.
          Pat Murphy
          President
          LPT Security Consulting
          Houston, Texas

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Pat Murphy View Post
            There is a bit of subtlety here but then again not.

            There is a continuum of force but the problem is that outside of law enforcement, there is little training as to what that is. Most people are trying to flee and not necessarily stand toe to toe in a fight. They are fighting, however to flee. The use of force cannot be "abusive". This conjurs up all kinds of visions of what that is and that is exactly my point. You have to be guided by policy/procedure and training but in the middle of a fray you don't want to have to be thinking about which page that was on.

            This is an often tried point in court especially in motel and bar environments, retail, and event security. The plaintiff has a good chance to prevail because there was little or no training other than the basic State mandated level.
            As a follow up to that court issue, I will offer this. A force "continuum" is a trial and error proposition. When the original format was introduced, states tied the officers hands and limited the response options. This is when plaintiffs discovered that they could easily win nearly every excessive force suit by merely pointing out the so-called guidelines. However, the Supreme Court actually acknowled that it was nearly impossible to determine how much force would be needed until the event was over. The force models that were taught forced one to try something, evaluate it's effectiveness then try something else. It was always designed for the protection of the agency/department or employer rather than the officer. On the other hand, when basing your responses on the "totality of the circumstances," most reasonable people (jurors) will side with the officer. But only if it is presented in it's entirety, not as simple action/response.
            Jerry
            http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't know about everyone else's perceptions but what I find truly 'offensive' is an offender choosing to act outside the law (socially acceptable guidelines) only to turn around and hide behind those very same laws (citing various legal defenses) when arrested

              FWIW we're trained (and legally permitted) to use 'sufficient force' to neutralize the threat/effect an arrest... no more, no less using the force continuum as a response guide
              "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give" - Winston Churchill

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Maelstrom View Post
                I don't know about everyone else's perceptions but what I find truly 'offensive' is an offender choosing to act outside the law (socially acceptable guidelines) only to turn around and hide behind those very same laws (citing various legal defenses) when arrested

                FWIW we're trained (and legally permitted) to use 'sufficient force' to neutralize the threat/effect an arrest... no more, no less using the force continuum as a response guide
                That should be a reasonable proposition, if someone could pre-determine how much force would be "sufficient" prior to trying it. That is the major flaw in these continuums. How much torque is needed to loosen a wheel lugnut? I know, that's only symantics, but thats my point. We don't know how much force is necessary until we try. This leaves the outside observers to second guess our actions. "Reasonable" is very subjective.
                Jerry
                http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by jmaccauley View Post
                  That should be a reasonable proposition, if someone could pre-determine how much force would be "sufficient" prior to trying it. That is the major flaw in these continuums. How much torque is needed to loosen a wheel lugnut? I know, that's only symantics, but thats my point. We don't know how much force is necessary until we try. This leaves the outside observers to second guess our actions. "Reasonable" is very subjective.
                  It may be subjective, but what is the alternative?

                  As security, you know that every situation pans out differently, so it's not like law enforcement could cut-and-dried outline reactions to every possible scenario.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Nauticus View Post
                    It may be subjective, but what is the alternative?

                    As security, you know that every situation pans out differently, so it's not like law enforcement could cut-and-dried outline reactions to every possible scenario.
                    The alternative is to take the TOTALITY of the situation into consideration, especially when documenting force incidents. An example would be trying to remove an unwanted guest from a property. Normally, holding an arm in a classic escort position and directing them out is sufficient. The subject responds with resistive tension and we can escalate to an arm bar takedown. However, the same scenario, but the subject is a 6'5". 255 lb. bodybuilder with a bad attitude. The arm bar obviously won't work, but should we go ahead and try it first? We may have to give a final warning and be prepared to use pepper spray or an impact weapon if necessary. Can the response be justified? I believe it can. The alternative to that is an injured, or worse, SO.

                    Taking the age, height, weight, fitness level, etc. into consideration would seriously alter any force continuum. Unfortunately, these continuums do not address that.
                    Jerry
                    http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I believe that if you write a proper report, you will always justify ANY force that was required to overcome a subject's resistance. What I am saying is that if force has been used, then you must be able to justify that force in writing so that anyone who reads your report will understand the events that lead up to the use of force and agree that the force you used was justified. When you are faced with these situations, remember that you may only use the amount of force that is needed to overcome whatever resistance and that you must keep yourself in control and not overreact when using force. This is sometimes ver difficult to do when your innermost desire is to "make him Pay", but it can be done. Please guys, don't over react and become the one who is charged!!!
                      Murphy was an optomist.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Keep in mind that the report is only the first step in justifying your actions. There will be depositions and court hearings. Your written account will certainly be reviewed heavily, but your your oral testimony also must be consistant and credible. I have read some really good written accounts, only to watch an officer take on the arrogance of a criminal defendant when asked to verbalize their actions. If you were convinced that your actions were necessary at the time, you should be just as sure weeks, or even years later when retelling it.
                        Jerry
                        http://personalprotectionconcepts.info

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