Reality Training: How to handle an inmate who can withstand an ECD

By C1 Staff

An inmate at the Lower Buckeye Jail injured four correctional officers after withstanding several attempts at using an ECD to control him. One of the officers was put in the hospital with fractures to his face.

Check out the video below and rejoin us for discussion and questions:

This video highlights a few things from a tactical perspective:

The first of which is maintaining a proper reactionary gap until approach to contact. That gap or distance can be anywhere from 4-8 feet depending on the school of thought or department training. The reactionary gap is that distance between you and the subject that allows you to react or respond should the need arise. The greater the gap, the greater the time to respond. When the decision is made to go “hands on” officers need to remember to approach in a manner that is safest for them. Having the subject lay face down on the ground or turn around would be preferred methods of approach than walking into the agitated offender’s personal space.

In the event that the offender refuses to comply with directives, deployment of alternative weapons options can be deployed at a safe distance still allowing for the opportunity to react to an imminent assault.

Wait for resources to arrive prior to going hands on when possible. The time to call for back up is before you need it when possible. If a subject is refusing to comply with orders, exhibiting aggressive behavior, or making threats there is nothing wrong with waiting for adequate resources to arrive prior to attempting control. Five or six staff on one is a fair fight in corrections.

Officers need to recognize when the weapon option has failed or is unsuccessful. Whether it is pepper spray, electronic control device, or physical methods, staff need to be able to recognize when to move to another force option. Unfortunately we are often limited in corrections to what times of weapons we have at our disposal, however, there may be a time when the tool is more of a hindrance than a help. In the video, it is clear that the probe deployment failed to make adequate contact. At that point the Taser is more of a pain compliance device with only drive stun capabilities than it is a control option. Continuing to hold on to the less lethal device, whether it’s a pepper spray can or a Taser, when it has been clearly ineffective prevents the officers from being able to use their hands to effectively defend themselves.

Keep your hands up. This is even more crucial when the reactionary gap has been closed or is very small. Even while attempting to deescalate a hostile subject the hands can be up in a sort of “calm down” message without actually saying it. This, when done right, appears disarming and non-threatening and sends that same message to others while allowing the officer to block, defend, or go on the offensive should the need arise.

In facilities with limited resources and staffing this video demonstrates the need for adequate staff resources. One motivated, and in this case mentally ill, inmate can inflict a great deal of damage when and if they are determined enough. Back up. Back up. Back up.

Discussion questions: 

What was the level of defensive tactics training received by the officers?

Was there training, procedure, or protocol for approaching disruptive inmates?

What caused the Taser to be ineffective on the subject? Failed probe contact? Inmate’s mental illness?

What if any, other force options should be available?

Could the presence of additional staff have prevented the situation from occurring?

Is there a preferred method to use when approaching hostile subjects?

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