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Three things to remember in a hands on situation

Often going hands-on with a subject is necessary to complete the job. Going hands-on with a subject is a high-stakes full-contact sport that is inherently dangerous and can cause injury to officers, liability to departments, and in worst-case scenarios death or career-ending damage to an officer. Sometimes, going hands-on can be avoided. Here are there things that can minimize the number of “bouts” you participate in on the job.

Situational awareness

By far the most important skill that can save your life or your partners life. You’ve heard it a hundred times, “complacency kills;” yet you head to the call, preoccupied with the seven other calls holding on the board, the bills that are due before your next paycheck comes in, and the intra-departmental politics that you are trying to avoid. To an extent, it’s kind of understandable; considering this is your 10th call you’ve been on today, and you were just an armed reporter the first nine.

Let's go back to the basics, what information do I have on this call? What history do I have at this address? Did dispatch run the involved parties? Is anyone involved known to fight with us? Should this be a two-officer call? Should I request another unit to slide this way? And that’s all before you even get to the scene.

Upon arrival, where am I going to park my cruiser? Will I just pull up into the driveway, step up, and pull up my gun belt like Barney Fife? Or will I park in a tactically sound position a couple of houses down where I can, if needed, use it for cover and or concealment? All this should be a subconscious checklist that you make on every call.

Reactionary gap

You go through the checklist and make contact with the involved parties. Well, the textbooks say stand bladed at approximately 10 feet away. Now what the textbook says and what happens in the “real world” can be very different. In an effort to be sympathetic, non-non-standoffish, and the dimensions of most residence we frequent, we often stand far closer than 10 feet. Here are a couple of concepts that can help tilt things back in your favor. Obstacles - positioning yourself and your interviewee (subject/suspect/victim) separated by an obstacle that they will have to go around or over to get to you will add milliseconds to your reaction time, milliseconds that may just be enough to save your life. Focal versus peripheral vision - keeping the suspects hands in your peripheral vision is something that you have to train your eyes and mind for. Weather you are running a file/status check, writing notes, or looking at evidence, “hands kill,” and you will keep your suspects hands in your peripheral vision. Officer presence - what does your body language say? I’m a pushover or I’m a respectful and competent officer than can handle herself and its probably a bad idea to fight with me? It’s an important lesson taken from the animal kingdom, predators very seldom target anything but the old, weak, or the injured prey. If you can’t project confidence while being respectful you should probably travel in packs. Yes, I know your call volume is ridiculous and you and your partners are doing all you can to clear the call board. But your safety is more important than clearing the board. If your spider senses are going off, call for another unit.

Know your limitations, and improve them

You may be the legal genius of your platoon, or the deescalation God of your district, but you might have let your belt line slide a little bit and the last thing you hit was at a casino. It’s important that you understand what you are and are not capable of handling. If you are making contact with John Doe who has fought with officers the last three times they were at his residence, slow down, don’t John Wayne it. Call for other officers, if you are not familiar with the officers that arrive to assist, take a minute to brief them and come up with a game plan (that will most likely go out the window as soon as you get punched in the face), but it will certainly give you an edge over going in blind with a bunch of officers you don’t normally work with.

Now lets take that a step further, without making you hate me, I want you to think of something. If you know you can use some improvement in your physical fitness, defensive tactics/subject control, and your overall shape (not round); why don’t we explore the possibilities of taking your current limit and slightly bumping it up by cleaning up your diet, starting to work out, and even better join a reputable defensive tactics program or mixed martial arts or jiujitsu school? I know the 12 hour shifts, the kids, the bills, the significant other… but wait, stop! Take a minute, as officers we need time to decompress, to release, to get back down to baseline before going home. After all, we don’t like taking the job home. What better way to get in shape, release aggression, and learn how to defend ourselves? Well, how about going to a jiujitsu school after work and grappling with good people that wan to make you better. I will personally be happy to help find you a good place to train in your area. Email me or contact me on social media and I’ll help you get the ball rolling. Wait! Don’t put it off. Contact me right now. We’ll get the ball rolling together and make you a better you, a better officer, and a better person.

Stay Safe,


About the author:

Amir Khillah is a retired professional fighter, holds a Master ' s degree in Human Performance, a Bachelor ' s degree in Exercise Physiology/kinesiology, a Police Academy Subject Control Instructor, a certified police officer, and the founder of Centurion Moderns Subject Control. For more information about officer Khillah or Centurion Modern Subject Control, please visit

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