"I can't breathe." - Last words of Eric Garner
Law enforcement officers, troopers, deputies and agents (from here on out called LEs), are historically undertrained in hands on techniques with resisting subjects since at least the 1970's. Over time police departments, agencies and training academies transitioned their focus away from hands on skills proficiency to utilizing tools like the baton, taser, pepper spray and firearm at an increasing rate. The legal landscape was turning matters of use of force into a realm of tools and machines. Perhaps it was with the best interest of the officer in mind - that if the officer could stay at a distance to the subject, they would be safer. Just look at all the tools the officer uses that are designed to maintain distance - baton/impact weapon, pepper spray, taser, sidearm, shotgun, patrol rifle. Each one of those tools is taught and trained at a police academy and their sustainment is prioritized by departments and agencies in annual, bi-annual and even quarterly refresher training and range time.
We’ve All Seen it Before...
“What are you looking at, bro?” The Instigator postures up, inflates his chest and holds his arms further away from his body in an attempt to make himself look bigger and more intimidating. His piercing stare is meant to induce fear into his Opponent.
“Huh? Nothing. What’s your problem?” The recipient of this attention is initially taken off guard but is unwilling to concede or lose face to the Instigator in front of the others in the room.
“You’re my problem, bro. Checking out my girl and staring at me like you’re a tough guy.” The Instigator uses accusations to justify his need to initiate a conflict with his Opponent.
“You better get out of my face.” The Opponent is making a stand and showing that he is willing to throw down by making a threat of his own.
“Or what?” The Instigator tries to elicit an ultimatum from the Opponent so he can force him into a position to either put up or shut up. To either fight or lose face.
“Or I’m gonna kick your ass”, says the Opponent, as he shoves the Instigator away with a two handed chest push. Physical contact has been initiated. The ritual has moved into the next phase.
Jason Clarke. Owner & Head Instructor of Iowa City Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.