15 Aug Helping those who help us!
Having been a street cop in the Reno, Nevada area for twenty-five years, I have had numerous experiences where the suspect forced or attempted to use force to evade an arrest. By the time I joined the force, I had just received my 2nd degree black belt and somewhat prepared for these physical confrontations. The years I spent competing in Martial Arts tournaments and training with a variety of Instructors, prepared me in ways I would never have imagined.
At the time, I was 5’10″ tall and weighed 147 pounds. Being a lean-mean-fighting machine, I was usually the smaller of any of the officers who arrived on scene as my backup. Nearly every time the backup officer arrived, the bad guy would size me up compared to the much larger officer. And not to my surprise, the bad guy chose me thinking they would have an easier time if their attack was on me. I was fortunate enough to defend myself, and with finesse, take the bad guy into custody without significant injury to him or her; yes her too.
I had one significant altercation earlier in my career. I was alone and was attempting to arrest one man, about the same size as I was, however this guy was a little squirmy. The young man was not fighting in the sense of throwing punches or kicks to resist arrest, but once I took him to the ground, but he was resisting by moving his arms in such a fashion that it made it difficult to gain control. I really did not want to hurt the guy, but I just was trying to gain enough physical control that would allow me to handcuff him. I have no idea how long that altercation took place, but it must have been long enough for a man walking by to see me, a cop in full uniform, on the ground on top of this guy attempting to gain control over this suspect’s squirmy arms. The man approached me and asked me if I needed any assistance. I replied yes and asked him to just grab and hold one arm. Once both the suspect’s arms were controlled, I was able to complete the handcuffing and take Mr. Squirmy to jail without further incident.
When I explained this altercation to a much more seasoned police officer, he left me with this piece of advice: if the person is crazy enough to fight you – they are crazy enough to kill you! From that day on, I had a different mindset when it came to a suspect resisting a police officer.
Years later, a police officer in Reno, NV responded to a suspicious person call. Once the officer arrived, the man ran towards the officer, jumped and kicked the officer in the chest knocking the officer to the ground. The suspect fought with the officer and the officer was able to request emergency assistance. Prior the back-up officers arriving, the officer and suspect fought over the officer’s firearm. The manager witnessing the fight came to the officer’s aid and asked the officer what he could do to help. The officer asked the manager to take control of his firearm to keep it out of the hands of the suspect. The manager did just that, keeping the handgun away from the violent suspect. Ultimately, back-up officers arrived and took the suspect into custody.
A police officer in the United States is armed and has the job is to enforce the law. The officers are armed because either the criminals are armed, or they have the capability to physically overpower the officer. If a person will take on an armed police officer, and overpowers the officer, the is a good chance the officer will be disarmed of their weapon and killed with their own weapon. Officers are trained to never lose a fight for that reason.
There are more than enough past cases where a police officer who was in the performance of their legal duty was killed or severely injured by a criminal. In some cases, the criminal ambushed the officer. In other cases, the criminal was resisting arrest and physically fought the officer (or officers).
There are numerous attacks on male and female police officers where the officer was surprised by the sudden attack, the ferociousness and extreme violence. Either the officer was completely caught off guard, or just overwhelmed by the suspect.
In one case caught on a dash camera, a female officer conducted a traffic stop on a highway. The suspect had his daughter with him. Caught on dash camera, the suspect was standing at the front of the police car. When the suspect made up his mind that he did not want to go to jail, the suspect violently attacked the officer.
Using just his fists, the suspect overpowered the female officer knocking her to the ground and repeatedly punching her with his fist until he eventually knocked her unconscious. This horrible attack occurred while the suspect’s young daughter witnessed her father beating a female law enforcement officer on the ground and into unconsciousness. The suspect can be seen making an initial attempt to pull the officer’s firearm from her holster, gave up his efforts to take the officer’s firearm. The suspect and his daughter fled the scene in his vehicle leaving the female officer still unconscious and lying on the ground. The suspect was ultimately captured, convicted and sentenced to many years of incarceration.
In another case, an officer conducted a traffic stop and the driver who was a heavyweight boxer. The driver exited his vehicle and attacked the officer. The officer fought back and used chemical spray to deter the violence to no avail. The officer shot the suspect, yet the suspect continued to beat the officer. It was not until a backup officer arrived before the suspect was taken into custody.
The question is, what would you do if you were to see an officer being attacked? Would you continue going about your way giving excuses such as: it does not concern you, or you feel you can’t do anything to help the officer because you don’t have the skills to help?
Neither of those “excuses” are correct. Not only does it concern you, but if a suspect has no hesitancy to take on an armed law enforcement officer, take his/her weapon, or use their own weapon to kill that officer, what threat does that suspect pose to the community at large.
Secondly, “you” can do something! By-standers can do any number of things from calling 9-1-1 to advise the officer needs immediate assistance, to physically helping the officer.
If you have the requisite physical skills to help the officer – announce your presence and ask the officer how you can help. If the officer can verbally respond, he/she may ask the citizen to help by physically restrain the suspect to help handcuff . If the officer cannot verbally respond, tell the officer what your intention is as you step in to do what needs to be done.
As you go about the personal business of your day, keep your eyes and ears open. Whenever you see a police officer in the performance of his/her duty, please look to see if the officer needs assistance. If the officer needs help, stop and do whatever needs to be done.