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- Through the Darkness
The original versions of these safety tips first appeared on PoliceOne.com.
Bathroom Breaks Chris Martin, McArthur (Ohio) Police
When taking a subject to the bathroom, handcuff their dominant (strong) hand behind them to their belt or belt loop and uncuff the non-dominant (weak) hand. This may help prevent them from easily retrieving and throwing evidence down the toilet.
This was a lesson I learned last October when a suspect, thanks to the free use of his dominant hand, retrieved and flushed contraband down the toilet very quickly before I was able to get to it. He had pushed me out of the way.
Eliminate Cuff Escapes Deputy Mike Marchman, Cobb County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office
It seems we hear a new warning about hidden cuff keys every week, but there are several things you can do to make it virtually impossible for suspects to take off their handcuffs.
First, whenever practical, cuff them so that the backs of their hands are together with the palms out and thumbs up. (It should go without saying that all suspects should be handcuffed in back, by the way.) This not only makes it difficult to manipulate a key, but also it puts their arms in an awkward position should they pull their hands around to the front.
Second, put the key holes on top. If you use hinge cuffs, putting the key holes on top will make it virtually impossible to get the cuffs off. Trust me, I've tried.
Third, always double lock the cuffs. Fourth, put the suspect in the car, make them sit facing forward and seatbelt them in to restrict their movement.
If you do all of these things, you don't have to worry so much about missing a key or lock pick on a pat down. Even Houdini would have a hard time defeating all of that. That's not to say we should stop looking for cuff keys, but if we follow a few simple procedures with every arrest, we can prevent any attempt to escape even if they did sneak a key past us.
Handcuff Maintenance Richard B. Weinblatt, PoliceOne.com & Seminole Community College
Many of us remember to maintain our firearms. Unfortunately, few remember to check our less glamorous piece of equipment: our handcuffs.
Most veteran officers' handcuff maintenance practices are a far cry from those early days in the police academy when the newbie would click the single strand through the double strand over and over again. It was true years ago, and I see it today in the police academies I manage.
Many officers who work for slower jurisdictions, as well as administrators who are not catching calls regularly, neglect to check their handcuffs until the day comes that they need them, and at that point, it's too late. All law enforcers, regardless of arrest volume or rank, should regularly check their handcuffs. Like a firearm, cuffs have parts that interact. If one can't move, it'll affect the reliability. Each time you check your firearm, you should inspect your handcuffs by doing the following:
- Clean the handcuffs using a cleaning solvent. Be careful not to use too much;
- Operate the locking-unlocking and double-locking mechanism frequently to ensure smooth operation;
- Swivel the cuffs around several times to make sure the double-strand has not become compressed. If it has, it could impede the pass-through movement of the single-strand; and
- Visually inspect your handcuff key to make sure it's not twisted or otherwise compromised.