Handcuffing for Subject Control
and Compliance

Handcuffs are the most common form of mechanical restraint device and handcuffing possibly the most universal form of subject control. Most subjects once effectively restrained, tend to become a great deal more compliant.

As part of an arrest procedure the application of some form of mechanical restraints is generally used to ensure the safety of the subject, the professional, members of the public, and for the prevention of escape.

Restraint devices are considered subject control tools. They are not considered weapons unless an individual uses them as such. That being said, there have been instances where individuals can be seen walking on their patrol twirling their restraints on their fingers.

Not only is this absolutely unprofessional, but in most places, is considered an assault if at the same time they are approaching or addressing a subject.

What is an assault by definition? Acts, words or gestures that would lead a prudent person to believe they are about to be assaulted. You don't have to wait for the other party to attack you as long as you can explain what lead you to believe you were about to be assaulted, you can initiate your defense or escape.

Thus the unprofessional presentation or use of mechanical restraints can be deemed to be an assault or an assault with a weapon.

The proper and professional use of restraint devices are by comparison considered ethical and humane means for subject control.

Mechanical Restraint Academics

Before the professional can progress to the actual application of any kind of restraint tool, a sound understanding of the background academics is necessary.

The professional application of restraint devices is done to minimize risk to all parties and prevent the subject's escape. It is never done to threaten, intimidate, coerce or embarrass. Every effort should be made to avoid inflicting undue pain upon a subject in the process of restraints application.

This is the theory and the law. Does it happen differently on the streets and in our prison systems? Of course. People are people.

We're talking about altercations here. Tempers and fears can both run high, but at the end of the day we must all be aware that there are certain parameters on the lawful and proper application of restraints and any time we step outside of these parameters, we assume a liability position.

Thus the professional must have more than a basic understanding of the following areas:

Search and the Law ("If you're gunna cuff him, ya gotta search him!")
Handcuffing and Search
Passive Arrest Sequence
Active Arrest and Search

The application of mechanical restraints, handcuffs and otherwise have been handed down to us as a matter of common law. In most places, there have for years been no direct mention of restraint applications written into law. Since the precedent was set in common law, the whole area was considered assumable.

Nowadays with litigation and mitigation being at the forefront of society, more and more authorities are putting the types of mechanical restraints that are allowed into law as well as restrictions on both types and circumstances for their use.

For example, in Canada, in some provinces civilians may not apply restraint devices period. Only medical professionals or law enforcement officers are allowed to do so. Other provinces allow the application of restraints but restrict which types (most commonly allowing the use of what are called "chain link handcuffs" but restricting the use of what are known as "hinged handcuffs").

Other provinces have as yet made no changes and rely upon the old common law standards. This is a case where the professional must be aware of which laws apply in the locations in which they operate. In particular they must be aware of which laws apply to their specific profession.

Most at risk for running afoul of various restraint laws would be those security companies who for example move from province to province.

It is a similar situation in the United States of America. When it comes to the application of any mechanical restraints for the purpose of subject control, let the professional beware and be wary.

Know the laws and particularly your restrictions before you carry, let alone apply a mechanical restraint device.

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