In the wake of the Eric Garner tragedy, the NYPD is teaching officers a new technique to subdue a suspect who is resisting arrest. DNAinfo reports that the method is called “Armbar Hammerlock,” a “martial arts and wrestling move focusing on restraining the arms of a resisting suspects to bring them down without grabbing the neck.”
Here’s how the new approach works:
The strategy calls for the officers, when possible, to wait and work in at least three-person teams when confronting suspects who do not want to be handcuffed.
Two officers should each grab an arm and seize control at the elbow. The third officer then “sweeps” a leg, which forces the suspect to a knee and into a position where they can more easily be handcuffed.
The “armbar” is an elbow joint lock that hyperextends the arm over a fulcrum — in this case, an officer’s arm — allowing the officer to control the suspect by leveraging his arm over the fulcrum, according to a martial arts experts.
The “hammerlock” action calls for the suspect’s arm to be bent toward their back with upward pressure toward the shoulder joint, making it easier to handcuff an aggressor.
The training is part of a three-day course meant to teach officers how to negotiate through conflict and work on their communication skills. Deputy Commissioner for Training Michael Julian, who served as Bill Bratton’s chief of personnel in the 90s, said, “We gave them the tactics, the batons, Tasers, pepper spray and restraint techniques, but the officers were never taught to communicate, or to control their emotions, or ego, or anger or even to take a breath to find ways to deal with non-threatening encounters without resorting to force and escalating situations.”
The curriculum was in the works before the Garner incident, but police developed the new takedown tactic as direct response to Garner’s death. Garner, who was arrested for selling illegal cigarettes, was put into a prohibited chokehold by Officer Daniel Pantaleo last summer. In the video of the incident, Garner is heard saying “I can’t breathe” 11 times.
“Before this, the NYPD approach was, more or less, just pile on,” said one official. “But we are giving officers other skill sets to use for non-threatening situations that will both protect them and the public.”
The course has been taught to 6,000 cops so far, and has been seen by about two dozen City Council members.
(Photo: Dave Hosford)