Active Arrest and Search

Active Arrest and Search refers to the whole process of subduing/grounding a non-compliant or assaultive subject and forcibly handcuffing and searching them. This can be a lengthy and exhausting process involving a good many defensive and subject control skills. The process usually ends up looking nothing like it did in training sessions.

In an active arrest scenario you will usually have to safely take an attacker from standing to grounded. Regardless of whether they are attacking you or attempting to effect their escape, you must obtain and maintain control of them. Ideally you (usually) want to ground them 'face down'. Should they land on their back you will have to effect a 'rollover' technique to get them in a face down position.

Next, you will have to apply one of a variety of enforcement related ground pins (as opposed to 'martial arts' type pins) to stop them fighting further and to prevent injuries to all parties. When you have effective control of the subject and only when you have effective control of the subject you will draw and apply your cuffs.

Note: When I speak of 'forcibly' applying handcuffs and searching a subject I am referring to your doing this contrary to their will. Mechanical restraints should always be applied in as non-injurious a manner as the subject and circumstances will allow.

When you handcuff them you will need to properly position and 'deadlock' the restraints. If the cuffs are 'too tight' you will need to loosen them or properly apply a second pair and remove the first, switching the cuffs.

Next, you will have to search them. First access the impacting factors between an immediate search or needing to move them to a safer location. For the purpose of this discussion I will proceed in a continuous manner. You will conduct "a cursory search in the area of reach for weapons only". That is what you note in your notebooks and reports and that is what you inform the police when they arrive. Use proper search tools, not your bare hands.

Once again you will be at a point of choice. Now you must access the needs to maintain the subject safely controlled on the ground, get them up, or even move them to another location. Now for my pet peeve. Do not ever have a group of officers pick up the subject and "carry" them off. This usually results in injuries to the subject and the officers!

Use some of the techniques to 'assist' the subject onto their feet. If they refuse there are other tactics to "bring" them to their feet. With total non-responders there are other options available. If you are a civilian, consider maintaining this type of subject on the ground (on their side) until the police respond.

Finally use proper escort tactics to move the subject to where you need to take them.

Active Arrest Key Points Checklist

Safe approach
Effective grounding
If necessary, roll over onto stomach
Kneeling shoulder pin
Reverse “post” shoulder pin
Wrist and elbow lock
Wrist and shoulder lock
Elbow and shoulder lock
Cuff and shoulder lock
Timing drawing the handcuffs
The handshake
Positioning and deadlocking handcuffs
“Too tight”—loosening or switching
Seated from prone
Seated to standing
Proper escort position
Safe removal of handcuffs

Remember, you may have started out trying to make an arrest on an apparently compliant subject and had it escalate into an active arrest and search of a resistive or assaultive subject or you may have started out defending yourself or someone else from an attack. In the end, it really makes no practical difference. If you practice flowing from one into the other during your training, the process should be seamless for you when it occurs.

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