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Saving Lives and Control

Some Issues from the Sector of KMG for Law Enforcement

By Eyal Yanilov

Imi told me once that he started teaching Self Defense techniques and approach as part of Military Krav Maga in the early 1950’s when commanders from the Military Police came to him with this need as their officers/soldiers were getting punched by other soldiers, especially paratroopers, while handing out reports for inappropriate dress-code. Funny but true, and I personally know a couple of paratroopers (good friends of the family) from that generation and period of time who did this in several occasions.

On a more serious note, the following topics;  law-enforcement subjects, controlling attackers, using leverages, pain compliance, snapping on handcuffs, avoiding the use of firearm, saving lives, team work, body search, use of other nonlethal weapons, weapon retention, all of these are just some of the very complicated and difficult missions that police officers must be proficient with.

This month we conducted a Law-Enforcement Instructors Course in Norway. For 10 day, 8-9 hours per day, Rune Lind (our Norwegian director and the highest KM level in this country) and I gave the best of our time, knowledge and attention to a couple of dozen participants. All participants are KMG general / civilian instructors who wanted to upgrade themselves, some for the purpose of their work as officers of the law and instructors of Police or Military units and others to improve their teaching skills and expand their knowledge in order to pass on to  civilian and Police officers students in their regular training groups. In this article I will address only a couple of issues from this vast subject.

There are many reasons why a police officer should use his pistol, the service weapon, as a firearm and shoot a criminal or a terrorist. However, there are also 10 very important reasons or situations why not to shoot, even in the midst of a violent incident, when the weapon is already in his hand and out of the holster. The simplest reason is that at close range, when it is necessary to shoot, the pistol malfunctions or the ammunition runs out. The remaining option is to utilize any available resource, including using the pistol as an impact weapon, striking with it to overcome the attacking criminal. There are also some less obvious reasons that unless taught, most do not consider, for instance that it could be too dangerous to shoot. Too dangerous because innocent people are close by and a hostage or a VIP maybe badly hurt. In such case the remaining options include KM, attacking, defending, controlling, protecting, all the while with the weapon in the hand (to put the weapon back in the holster is usually a ridiculous, nonrealistic option). The issue of not discharging a firearm is also relevant in situations where there are dangerous substances in the area such as fuel or gas. A few months ago there were several examples of innocent people getting hurt. In one incident two NYPD officers chased and gunned down a killer in the middle of the street. While doing so they discharged over 15 rounds and unfortunately shot 6 innocent bystanders as well as the criminal. Horrific outcome!

Another reason to refrain from shooting is the issue of proficiency. When the officer is able to use other means and options to defuse the situation even if he or she can take the shot and it is legitimate and legal to shoot (naturally when it is not dangerous to others). Instead the officer chooses not to shoot as he is able and capable to overcome the criminal without the use of the lethal weapon (which is already in his hand). For example, imagine that an officer is attacked by a knife wielding assailant, maybe a drunk teenager. Instead of discharging a shot, the officer uses a hand defense and a couple of counter strikes with the weapon that knocks the attacker down. Here we are talking about learning, training and practicing a variety of subjects and solutions that are really the essence of KMG for law enforcement officer, so that one will be efficient and proficient, thus able to save the life of a criminal. These capabilities will come into use only after we invest more in the human resource. For the officer not shooting a suspect will save much hustles and problems in the long run, since in many countries and departments, an officer shooting a suspect (justifiably or not) will get into a lot of trouble. This usually includes – suspension, criminal accusations and even imprisonment not to mention the mental stress and trauma that results from hitting and maybe even killing another human being.

This relates to civilians also. In many countries civilians can own a weapons and the use of firearm should be just but also smart. You should avoid trouble. So even if it is clearly obvious that you can shoot your attacker, you should try and avoid doing so. KMG has the answer and the way in many of these cases.

An officer must apprehend the criminal, collect all the evidence and do it in a way that the judicial system will be able to put that person behind bars. In the matter of controlling an attacker the need of handcuffing often arises. For civilians this need may rise too. For example (situation for civilians), when it is not possible to move away from the danger zone, the aggressor should be controlled and possible actions restricted so any further violent actions will be prevented. Law Enforcement Officers have handcuffs, they may also be equipped with various similar devices that are now commonly issued. Military personnel during peace keeping or peace enforcing missions should have such equipment also.

We have been teaching our soldiers from the early stage of the IDF how to tie a prisoner of war with a rope, as handcuffs or designated equipment were scares. Imi use to teach it to infantry and naturally also to us students and instructors, as it was a part (still is) of this curriculum. Years back I learned a very efficient way to tie a person with a belt. To do it you create a loop and insert it from above into the belt-buckle. You get two parallel loops, one inside another. Then you insert the aggressor’s hands through the 2 loops and rotate the belt by pulling the tail end of the belt. The loops tighten very well. You should end by securing the tail. You can tie the hands behind the back or in front, taking into considerations the situation, capabilities and needs. By the way, it is not easy to open the strapped belt: you should do it with patience while rotating the belt in the opposite direction than the tightening. A civilian student may need to apprehend, control and maybe tie the hands of an attacker in order to avoid inflicting further damage to that attacker, for example if the assailant penetrated his apartment or business and there was no other option but to act, fight and prevail.

Some of the subjects from the law-enforcement sector are also important to the civilian student progressing in KMG, especially control and pain compliance techniques; the use of baton for attacks and defenses; and retention of objects. So if your instructor is knowledgeable and certified to teach any of these subjects, ask him or her to widen your horizon and capabilities.