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by Peter Moskos

May 1, 2012

Another Day at the Office (III) -- Pain Compliance

This is news that shouldn't be: officers arrest a resisting suspect and for their efforts get splashed on the news for alleged brutality. At least the B.P.D. didn't flinch.

I say eighty percent of videos that purport to show brutality involve people under arrest who won't put their hands behinds behind their back. If you're under arrest and so ordered, you need to put your hands behind your back.

Here's the thing -- and I want you to try this at home or work with someone you love -- lie on your belly with your arms under you. Now have that someone try and force yours arms apart. Resist. Those arms won't budge. Now make it a threesome and have two people pulling. Those arms still won't budge.

It's incredibly hard to get a resisting person's arms out from under them. It's just the way the human body is built. So when that happens, police police use what is called (strangely un-euphemistically), "pain compliance." It's a fancy term for old-school putting on the hurt.

Pain compliance is done with pressure points or mace. In a pinch, you could strike somebody, but this is not how it's supposed to be done because it looks bad and you might break something.

Pain compliance is not self-defense. And it's not normal use of force in which the force is directed toward the goal. Pain compliance is supposed to hurt. And it keeps hurting we keep hurting until you decide it's in your best interests to follow lawful orders. And as soon as you comply, we'll stop putting on the hurt. Because you see those hands... how are we going to get those hands behind your back? We've already tried asking and forcing.

[thanks to Gotti]


Marc said...

Take your baton, stick it under their armpit (preferably dominant side) and push until the tip is about at the sternum, then step on the handle to flip them over. They will be on their back, laying on the baton with the arm you stuffed it under pinned by the baton and their own body weight, unable to use any weapon they were potentially hiding under there. Grab the free arm, reestablish control.

You are welcome.

Leverage. It's science and it doesn't look bad on video. Honestly, I think cops aren't taught enough hands-on techniques so the resort to "pain compliance" in an attempt to convince people to do what they want instead of just making them do what they want. It's ask, tell, make...and pain for the purpose of pain doesn't actually make anyone do anything

PCM said...

Thank you. I fully agree that more hands-on techniques need to be taught and used. And flipping somebody over like you describe is fun and easy.

But why would you want to flip the person over when you need to cuff the guy behind his back? At least when he's on his belly he's not much of a threat. I don't want the guy on his back, kicking and punching. And if he's on his back, how do cuff him behind his back?

Gotti Rules said...

Well said Pete. For once I actually agree with you. I actually think these officers did a good job. At no time do you see them punching or kicking the suspect or even using any obscene language. They seem to hold their composure. Anyone can make comments on how to do things differently, but until you are put in the situation it is hard to do. I think these officers should get commended for a job well done.

bacchys said...

I didn't see anything in the video at the link that I thought was objectionable. I suppose I'd have to see when/why the pepper spray was used. If it was like Tony Bologna of the NYPD spraying compliant women, then it and everything after it is excessive force, imo. I'm not going to take Threatt's word on it that he was trying to comply with the order to get back on the sidewalk, but he obviously disputes the original basis for their taking him into custody.

James @ austin-car-accident-lawyer.com said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A Critic said...

"Here's the thing -- and I want you to try this at home or work with someone you love -"

Try this: get in the same position. Have 5 or 6 cops in uniform with gear all pig pile on top of you. Have another officer immobilize you with a taser while the other 5 or 6 yell at you to stop resisting and put your hands behind your back as they hit and kick you.

If you can actually put your hands behind your back while 1) there is over half a ton of weight immobilizing you and 2) your muscles are being immobilized by a Taser - please post a video on YouTube proving that it is actually possible to comply with the seemingly impossible command of "stop resisting".

PCM said...

And if you could post a video of that happening, I would take your side.

But if that hasn't happened to you, and you're referring to this video, shut the f*ck up.

A Critic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
TestyMctester said...

"And if he's on his back, how do cuff him behind his back?"

Try watching old COPS videos. They don't get the guy on the ground. What they do is ask politely but firmly that the person turn around and put their hands behind their back. If you treat people with respect they will usually do the same. If you treat them like a thug then they will panic.

PCM said...

Of course you start that way. And it works 95% of time. But the question is what do you do when the guy doesn't return the respect and starts acting like a thug? You don't put a guy on the ground if you don't have to.

PCM said...

(Also, I'm not talking about Kelly Thomas in this post.)

DB said...

Interesting points all. I even accept the one from the critic as valid - although I have to ask why the hell you had to push it to that point in the first place. Even in uses of force that are found to be excessive - one can usually trace the originating causal factor to some bozo who thought it was a good idea to not comply.

As far as this video is concerned. First we are missing context - what happened before? The actual use of force is not out of line. However are there other methods to address this situation. Pepper spray in the eyes at that distance might cause some to pause - so it's something to think about. Slowing this situation down and applying a figure four leg lock might have been preferable. Once in the lock - he's not going anywhere and we can let him exhaust himself - or we can apply some very powerful pain compliance from this position without much fear of Officer injury. Regardless - the context is unknown so this is just some possible alternatives. We in policing need to start discussing public perception of our uses of force (justified or not). Quick, decisive and neutralizing is my moto - if it ends quick there's a lot less to bitch about.

If you like to discuss these topics in a rational educated manner - join me - http://forceoptionsle.blogspot.com/