The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

March 29, 2014

Training day

Police can take control with tactical techniques

BROOKFIELD — Based loosely on martial arts training and funded by casino revenue, police this week learned to protect themselves and take control of uncooperative people, using a combination of visual clues and tactical techniques.

A free, two-day training session Wednesday and Thursday taught police from Brookfield, Niles and Warren to gain the upper hand when attacked. More importantly, said Joel Siebert, a law enforcement training officer with the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy, they learned how to prevent an attack.

As law enforcement evolves, Siebert said, so does the type of person police are dealing with. “People see stuff on television and they try to emulate that. There are more drugs involved, so many times officers are dealing with people who are under the influence and have an almost super-human strength at the time.”

He and his partner, Micah Stole, travel the state in the mobile unit, showing police how to be vigilant to prevent “a catastrophic tactical failure” that forces an officer to be on the defensive.

Each policeman paired with another and practiced the techniques on a mat in the Brookfield Township Administration Building. “At first, they might be a little uncomfortable rolling around on the floor together. But I want to remind them that the things they learn today may save their life someday,” Siebert said.

Most important, Siebert said, is taking in the scene. “Be aware of where you are. Who is in the crowd? Are bystanders the person’s friends and they may attack you as well? Watch the suspect’s eyes. If he’s looking at your service revolver, he’s thinking of grabbing it,” he said.

“And 99 percent of the time if they grab your service gun, they’re going to shoot you with it,” he said.

“Remember, things can get real crazy, real fast,” Stole said.

Teaching police how to duck and miss a punch, throw the attacker off guard and knock him down was the beginning of a series of techniques that included using violence, if it became necessary.

“If you’re on the ground wrestling around, gain control by putting your elbow as hard as you can on their inner thigh. Don’t let them wrap their legs around you and restrain you,” Stole told the group. “Be prepared to push your thumbs in their eyes if you have to, but avoid the violence as long as you can.”

“Look out, call out, weapon out,” Stole said repeatedly, reminding police to observe their surroundings, radio for help and draw their weapons.

Siebert said he developed much of the training program based on his talent with mixed martial arts. “A lot of the moves are similar. It’s not about strength. It’s about technique.”

He reminded police how to fall to avoid striking the backs of their heads and to immediately roll onto their hips, not to stay flat on their backs. “You can push someone off using the strength of your hips. If someone is choking you, take both your hands and pull on one of their arms. They can’t choke you with one hand,” he said.

The training program is free, Seibert said, because Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine channeled money from Ohio’s casino funds into the academy. Smaller departments that may not be able to afford training at the academy but are no less at risk can benefit, he said.

One of the first signs of trouble, Siebert said, is when a person refuses to comply with police. “And never assume the person doesn’t have a weapon. If they hit you and you’re going down, try to make it a controlled takedown,” he said.

A classic mistake, Siebert said, is when police get “tunnel vision” when they are attacked. “If you’re going down and you’re looking down, you’re at risk for another attacker. We want police to see that before it happens,” he said.

None of the techniques is difficult, he said, and he hopes all of them will become automatic responses for police.

Another way to prevent an attack, Siebert said, is by looking and acting professional. “We’ve found that officers who dress professionally, with ironed uniforms and shined shoes and who act professionally at all times, are less likely to be attacked.”

Brookfield patrolman Ronnie Mann joked with the trainers that he “hadn’t exercised in 12 years” but Siebert noted the training involved quick response and critical thinking, more than physical strength.

Brookfield Chief Dan Faustino said the training was a part of the ongoing training requirements and that he appreciated the mobile academy coming to Brookfield.

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