Friday, September 25, 2009

Crisis Prevention

I am proud to say that I am now officially certified by the Province of British Columbia for Non-violent Crisis Prevention. Which is how to calm people before they get out of control, and how to physically subdue them without hurting them if they become violent. In the event that it becomes necessary to subdue a person who has become aggressive or violent, there are a variety of techniques that are used to restrain them, but the goal is to avoiding causing injury to that person.

At the same time, how you proceed depends on the individual and each situation is unique. When you are in a live situation with a violent individual, you must measure the risks on the spot as the situation evolves. If the person is armed with any kind of weapon, even a stapler, the circumstances change. You would be surprised how many objects can be wielded with lethal force by the right individual. It is easy for civilians to say how they would have responded in any specific situation, but until you actually experience violent incidents in person, you will never truly appreciate how difficult it is to measure these risk variables on the fly in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Police don't want to hurt you. They would obviously prefer it if every suspect or agitated individual behaved rationally and cooperated. They don't want to use the taser, much less their fire arm.

Which reminds me of my training in hand to hand combat. It wasn't martial arts, just general arm bar, wrist lock, takedown, and submission techniques that cause the least amount of long term damage. It was funny because we had an expert in these techniques come in to teach the course. I volunteered to be the guinea pig where the instructor would demonstrate the techniques on me. He said "say stop when it hurts, and I will stop". A little background info on me, once upon a time I won a gold medal at the Ontario Winter Games for weightlifting, the 100kg division. I was an offensive lineman in high school football, and was a team captain. Our team won 2 Championships based laregely on the strength of our running game through the O-Line. My legs can generate roughly 700 to 800 pounds of force when necessary. The instructor tried all of these techniques, but could not hurt me. Evidently I am also some form double jointed. In high school I competed in 5 sports and the only injury that ever took me out for a game was a popped appendix and I was back in a week.

The point is, not only could the non-violent techniques not hurt me, but I could get out of pretty much any submission hold, either by twisting and shifting my arms and elbows at the joints, or by brute force. It would take a team of trained officers to take me down for the count. Fortunately for society I am one of the good guys, who does not commit crimes and is respectful of police officers, but if someone of my physical attributes decided to resist detention, the only option would be a team of police gang tackling him, a taser, or a gun. If the officer(s) were forced to engage this individual in any form of hand to hand combat, then suddenly that officer(s) are at risk of serious injury. If we are going to pay these guys to protect us from society's wolves, then we have to give them some leeway in their threat assessment. When their own safety is at risk, I absolutely support their right to zap that offensive lineman with a few volts to entice the weightlifter to disengage and de-escalate from their aggressive behavior. It is better than shooting them, and it is better than putting the officers at risk of harm.

I support the use of tasers by police. But yes, if any officer uses any weapon when it is not necessary, they should be subjected to some form of disciplinary action. Bottom line is that 95% of the time, I trust the officer to make the best decision based on the available information.

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