Passive Arrest Sequence

The term passive arrest sequence simply means the routine (consistent) flow of steps you use in making an arrest of a complaint subject. The initial steps in the passive arrest sequence are further referred to as “The Charter Approach”. As the name implies, these steps are consistently followed in order to ensure that the subject’s Charter Rights are observed and protected thus:


“My name is ____________________.”

“I work for ______________________.”

“I am here because _________________________ (Name the behaviour or infraction that brought you to address them).”

At this point you may be unsure if an arrest is necessary or your most appropriate option. If this is the case you may continue to have a conversation with the subject to determine the ‘best’ available resolution. As soon as you decide that you are going to make an arrest simply continue with:

“I am arresting you for ____________________ (name the offense).” Be sure you are in a position to “affect your means.” In other words, have you or can you take physical control if they decide to run? (Active arrest vs. passive arrest.) An arrest is not complete unless you can articulate that you have a reasonable degree of control.

Secure the subject and handcuff if necessary. Search if you feel this is necessary at this point, being aware of your location and the other tactical considerations.

As long as you are ‘sure’ that they are under control, read them their 10B, Charter Rights from your notebook. Record in your notebook that you did so and the time this occurred. ALWAYS read this from your notebook or have your partner read it to them and both of you sign the notebook where the entry is made stating that this was done. (Remember your charter obligations!)

Although treated as separate ‘subjects’ the passive arrest sequence includes passive handcuffing and weapons search (in the subject’s area of reach) when these are deemed necessary and appropriate. Each is simply a continuation from the previous step.

Remember if the arrest is legal then the search is legal as is the means of restraint i.e. handcuffing. Be prepared to articulate why you did each. Continue the passive arrest sequence with each of these components in turn;

Suggested Passive Handcuffing Sequence

Continue to talk to the subject explaining what you are going to do as well as how and why (parallel dialogue).

“Now that you’re under arrest, I need to place you in handcuffs. Do you understand?” (Wait for a response.)

“I want you to widen your stance" (Be careful of your words. Never use terms like “spread your legs”)

Once they comply, continue with:

“Put your hands out in front, show me both palms…” (Wait for a response.)

“Please turn around and put your hands behind your back with the backs of your hands together".

"Widen your stance and lean slightly forward" (not “bend over”).

“I’m going to handcuff you now. Do you understand? ” (Wait for a response.)

Ask them to look the other way as you approach.

Secure the first hand and place the cuff on quickly. Just before touching them it is recommended that you ask them a question to distract them. Whichever hand you grab becomes the "secured hand". You position yourself on that side for safety purposes. The subject's other hand is now referred to as the "far hand", meaning that because of your positioning that hand is now farthest from you.

Secure the second hand and place the handcuff on quickly.

Adjust and double lock.

Search or escort as the case may be.

If, at any point, during this “compliant/passive” sequence you get resistance you must reconsider your options. This may include grounding the subject and continuing the process from a non-compliant perspective.

Key Points in Passive Handcuffing.

Safe/”Charter” approach
The “question”/distraction,
The handshake (and secure elbow and leg)
Timing drawing the handcuffs
Push, pull application
“Secured” hand first, then far hand
Positioning and deadlocking handcuffs
“Too tight”—loosening or switching
Safe removal of handcuffs

Weapons Search (If applicable to your situation.)

“Now that you’re under arrest, I need to search just in the area of your reach (if this indeed is your intention) for anything, weapons or otherwise, that could hurt you, me or anyone else.”

“I’m going to start by searching around your belt line. Do you have anything that could hurt you, me or anyone else?” (Search belt line using an appropriate search tool and on camera if available.)

“I’m going to search your right side pocket (Search pocket with search tool by running over top of pocket to indicate contents.)

If anything is located, again, verify…”what is this? Following subject’s response, you may advise, “I’m going to turn your pocket inside out and allow the contents to fall on the ground. When I’ve confirmed them to be harmless, I will return them to your pocket. Do you understand?” Be alert for changes in behaviour!

Repeat for left pocket, back pants pockets, anything within the area of reach with the handcuffs on.

**NOTE: A search must be reasonable to be legal. If you have the subject in handcuffs, they cannot reach inside top coat pockets, particularly in a cross gender search, there is no reasonable excuse for searching the breast area on a female when a male is conducting the search. Loss prevention searches may differ slightly and as a result be conducted differently based on legal justifications related to the arrest. Remember these justifications must be articulable.

Generally speaking, if your prisoner cannot reach an area, you’re not going to search it unless there is an obvious weapon or they try to access it while in your custody. For example, we will only search pant legs or boot tops if the subject attempts to reach them, or if a weapon appears to be there.

Anything else uncovered in a search, whether evidence directly related to the crime they’ve been arrested for (or unrelated materials such as drugs), are not primarily what we’re looking for. Don’t ignore them. Note them, the location found and set them aside (preferably in plain view, and if possible, remaining on camera).

In any event, our responsibility is to perform a legal search within the parameters of the fundamental principles of law while being respectful of the person’s rights and to hand over to the police forthwith. When we do so, it is also our duty to advise the police of the extent of any search we did conduct and the presence of anything they might be interested in. Let the police do their own search (they will) without a running commentary or interference.

Do advise the police to the effect of "I completed a cursory search of the area of reach, for weapons only..." Basically be clear and specific. Then be quiet and let them do their job. Be prepared to assist if they require it and so direct it but do not interfere. Once the police are on scene they are in charge.

Passive/Compliant Handcuffing Check List

Here is a simple checklist that I use in training to check students as they progress on their restraint applications. Feel free to use it to ensure that your application of mechanical restraints is correct, consistent, and safe. Obviously if you're going to use this chart, I'm assuming you've had the physical skills training from somewhere. Hopefully from us and this is just a review :)


Proper Positioning
Proper Distance
Use of Tactical Communications

Handcuffs Accessed

Smooth Removal from pouch without looking
Support hand remains up in front of the body
Removed only after subject under control


Maintained Control
Smooth Application
Checked for fit while in a position of control
Appropriate level of control given subject’s behaviour


Smallest Part of Wrist
Double Locked
Backs of the hands together


Maintained Control
Proper Positioning
Far Cuff Removed First
Loose Cuff Closed
Stepped Back After Removal

This chart applies to the passive arrest sequence employed on a compliant subject only. Please see the web page for the active arrest sequence for those subjects who physically resist your efforts to take them into custody.

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