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June 15, 2022

Dear Agency Admins, Bring Back Neck Restraints That Work

It goes without saying that neck restraints in law enforcement are frowned upon greatly. Given the wake of recent events, it will be a hard sell to convince the masses of these particular techniques. I am not an expert in unarmed self-defense, but I do not know what I have been trained on, and I know what I have seen work in the field. Law Enforcement agencies need to take a long hard look at their neck restraint and hold policy. 

Most agencies have banned any sort of restraint that involves using the neck. Anything remotely resembling a chokehold has been removed from virtually all agencies. I know that there isn’t even a handful that allows neck restraints in my state, and most of the ones cite a need for deadly force to be authorized. 

There are situations where a neck restraint, such as the shoulder pin restraint, could be deployed to subdue a combative subject in seconds without causing any injuries or the possibility of death. However, policies do not allow this because it “looks bad.” A severe reform needs to happen, and agencies must adjust policies accordingly. 

The shoulder pin restraint is a neck restraint that is easy to learn, easy to deploy, and it is not possible to cause death to a subject. I will not detail how to deploy this tactic since I am not an instructor, nor do I want to hear about how my article ended up getting someone hurt in a locker room from some knucklehead. So find a defensive tactics instructor that knows what they are doing and get them to educate you on this technique. I have seen this work used by the most petite officer I have ever witnessed in the field, taking down someone 3 to 4 times their size. The officer got to go home to their family, and the suspect got to spend some time at Club Fed. 

I am sure other restraints can produce a similar outcome. I can only speak intelligently on the one I have learned and seen used. Find what works and what your agency will allow. The bottom line is that force looks bad. Force is ugly. Dead people are more unappealing. Explaining why you shot someone while unarmed because they are beating an officer is ugly. Having everyone come out alive isn’t ugly. 

I am pleading with agencies to look into this to give your officers another tool to keep them safe and control subjects. Think of it like this. You have an officer about 5′ 4″ and weighs about 135 pounds soaking wet. Despite this, they have an excellent command presence and have learned the tools needed to be and stay safe. They are dealing with a 6′ 1″ 275-pound felon with outstanding warrants. Now the officer is in a struggle to gain control. They are losing the fight due to sheer power. The officer has a choice, use deadly force, or die. Wouldn’t it look better if the officer could deploy a shoulder pin restraint that leaves both officer and suspect unharmed and alive? 

What looks worse, a dead person or an alive person in handcuffs? Go to your agency’s policies on neck restraints and holds. Find out their limitations and compare them to the shoulder pin restraint. Speak with defensive tactics professionals and learn this technique. Make it part of the approved policy. Keep your officers safe and give them a better fighting chance.