Defensive Tactics for Today's Law Enforcement

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Defensive Tactics for Today's Law Enforcement by Stephen K. Hayes and Joe Neihaus is an outstanding resource for police looking to develop their defensive tactics skills. Its designed based on foundation of Defensive Tactics Training.

Stephen Hayes has spent his entire adult life in the pursuit of perfection through the study of Asian martial arts and spiritual traditions. He began his martial arts career in the 1960s. In 1985, he was elected to the prestigious Black Belt Hall of Fame for his pioneering work in introducing the Japanese ninja martial arts to the Western world. In 1993, Grand-master Masaaki Hatsumi of Chiba-ken, Japan, awarded him the extremely rare honor of ju-dan 10th degree Black Belt in the nine historical traditions of the Bujinkan Dojo martial arts. He is also the author of 20 books and is referred to by Black Belt Magazine as "one of the 10 most influential martial artists alive in the world today.

Joe Niehaus spent 36 years in law enforcement field retiring as a lieutenant with the Kettering Police Department in Ohio, where he created the Defensive tactics Program and developed one of the first Integrated Use of Force training programs in the United States.  He has instructed police defensive tactics  not only for Kettering but at regional and national police conferences and is a martial arts practitioner and personal student of Stephen Hayes.  He has been published in magazines such as Law and Order, Police Marksman, Police Magazine, The Law Enforcement Trainer, Close Quarter Combat, The Ohio Police Chief, Black Belt Magazine, Spirit of the Ninja, and Fighting Stars. His articles also appeared in The Best of Police Marksman Volume II. He has authored eight books. 

When it comes to the development of police defensive tactics, especially the hands on tactics, police have often looked to the martial arts for answers. The book talks about one of the primary reasons for this is that the methods of hand to hand combat have been documented, tested, and applied in the field of martial arts for centuries. There is a reason and purpose to each technique, the key however is to know what that purpose of the technique is and if it still applies in the world today.

In this book the authors keep it simple in describing the foundation of defensive tactics  by breaking it down to seven factors that they expand upon in the book:

  1. Pre-Emptive Attack-The one that most police agencies rely on and most defensive tactics programs present would be to meet the attack as soon as it is detected or what might be called a preemptive response.
  2. Strategic Attack-Here an officer would want to add more time on his or her side to help him or her deflect the incoming attack and perhaps prepare his or her response.
  3. Evasive Attack-Another option open for an officer when facing an incoming attack could be called evasive. here, the officer's first move is to get out of the way of the attack completely
  4. Ground-Holding Attack-Here, an officer believes that he or she is in full control, he or she sees the threat coming, knows that he or she can easily deal with it, and responds to it followed by his or her technique.
  5. Mental Conditioning-Preparing the mind for the rigors of conflict and violence. Mental conditioning has always been first among the skills needed for survival.
  6. Physical Fitness-is another form of training that is also necessary for officers and is the one that is as important as all other forms.  This cannot be stressed enough that an officer must maintain a level of fitness in order to survive a fight situation.
  7. Preparation-as Bobby Knight said; "The key is not the will to win... everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important. "

The book breaks down the techniques taught into tiny segments of a physical confrontation. Think of them as snapshots at different times in a fight. They are not meant to be static in that once you complete the technique you stop moving. on the contrary, the authors stress you must move and continue to move until l they fight has been won. They stress the importance of adaptation, that if a certain technique does not work right away do not force the issue. If it does not work, immediately move to something else.

"A martial artist who drills exclusively to a set pattern is losing his freedom. He is actually becoming a slave to a choice pattern and feels that pattern is the real thing. It leads to stagnation because the way of combat is never based on personal choice and fancies, but constantly changes from moment to moment, and the disappointed combatant will soon find out that his 'choice routine' lacks pliability.  There must be a 'being' instead of a 'doing' in training. One must be free. Instead of complexity of form, there should be simplicity of expression." ~Bruce Lee, Jeet June Do

They also have sections on edged weapons, special circumstances (two-man take-downs, improvised weapons, handgun retention, multiple opponents, knuckle swipe, elbow glancing blow and grip releases.

There is also a chapter, Integrated Use of Force Training, in which the authors make some very valuable points when it comes to preparing and officer for a situation where they may have to use force, training in the academy and in various methods of force is effective to a point. The issue of an officer's comfort zone with a physical encounter should be addressed. When dealing with and officers survival, being able to apply the techniques in a classroom setting is one step; by adding some of the tactics is this book, officers will have the opportunity to apply their training more effectively, but there is an issue of comfort zone. This may seem rather obvious but what they authors are saying is all too very true in policing where most cops get an academy level defensive tactics training and then if they are lucky a four hour block  annually throughout their careers after that.  This is an all too general rule throughout policing with few exceptions. Shameful of our profession in my humble opinion.

They also have a short and sweet section on report writing and courtroom testimony. There are more than just the physical techniques that keep an officer safe, when it comes to use of force situations. The officer being able to deal with the aggression on the street is one thing. but there is the situation of the court-room and possible charges of police abuse and brutality that officers must realize each time they use force. This is why its extremely important that officers exercise their writing techniques and improve their report writing, so that they documentation that they present in a report provides a clear picture of what they saw and explains why they reacted as they did.

The subject of force and policing has always been one that seeks continuous improvement and  I highly recommend this book to any police officer and and police defensive tactics instructor looking to do just that.

Stay Oriented!

Fred