“Society has changed and as a result, there has been a dramatic increase in drug overdoses, violent crimes and assaults on First Responders in our communities. There is a gap in survival tactics training and a missing survival gear element in the First Responder Community and we are going to fill it.”
The foundation of the HSDF:
The HSDF Staff and Instructors bring over twenty years of experience in Military and Law Enforcement Training (Firearms and Less Lethal Weapons), Police Patrol experience and Jiu Jitsu knowledge. In conjunction with our personal experiences and years of training with local, state and federal police agencies from the east coast, we have concluded that police defensive tactics training is falling behind. This happens for several reasons including lack of funding, old school mentalities, and a false belief in current training programs. The question is, when do we fix it?
Here is some background. Defensive Tactics are controlled defensive and offensive body movements of police officer's that are used to respond to a subject's aggression or resistance towards the Officer/EMS Professional. That means things that the Officer/EMS can do to blocking/create space/protect themselves or striking/holding a suspect/patient when that suspect/patient attacks them or resists arrest. These are the non weapon options that an Officer would have to choose from to take the suspect into custody when the use of a higher force is not necessary or legal.
Police academy’s across the United States include some kind of defensive tactics training curriculum. The standard however, is different. The quality of training is based on what the particular academy defensive tactics instructors and the agency administration believe works and is in accordance with the laws. The quantity of training is based on how much time there is in the day and how many other topics have to be covered. To every police academy’s defense, Recruits have to learn so many things that they should be issued a degree upon graduating. Either way, academy training is designed to give recruit officers the basic introduction of techniques and not make them professional MMA fighters. But like building a house, if the foundation is weak the walls may fall.
Police academy training can include boxing, striking, and ground fighting. While boxing and striking have their purposes and can be useful, they are not always the most efficient or effective. Things to consider are Suspects under the influence or suffering from an extreme mental disorder may not feel anything. The Officer can cause more damage to the suspect than intended and can injure their self as a result of punching the suspect’s face, the ground or hard object on a miss. If the Officer is in range to punch the suspect, the suspect is in range to punch the Officer as well. On top of that, punching may “appear” to be violent and in today’s world, all eyes are on the police. Ground fighting may consist of a handful of techniques including how to control someone on the ground, how to get back to their feet, and a weapon retention technique. For the most part it’s a good start, however unless the curriculum is anything like the Gracie Survival Tactics programs, it’s not likely going to cover a lot. Police Officers have the responsibility of keeping the community safe and that includes the suspects they arrest. But what can we expect of an Officer if they don’t have the nonviolent tools to do it.
For anything to become second nature, we need repetition and understanding. This is where continued training comes in. After graduating from the police academy, the average police agency only requires officers to attend defensive tactics update training four hours every two years. Some agencies require more and some require less. Considering every personal encounter for an officer is a potential assault, what can we realistically expect when an Officer has limited training. Keep this in mind as well. While in the academy, police officers learn all of the policies, state laws and case laws which set the rules, boundaries, and limitations for what kind of force (if any) an officer can use, when they can use it and how much they can use it. This is why it’s not fair to judge an officer without knowing the full facts and what they went through.
If you have never been in a fight, think of this. You talk to someone as part of your job. They begin to violently assault you by rushing you with punches and landing them to your body and face. During this violent assault, things are rapidly evolving. Before you black out or are knocked out, you have to think of all of your work policies (because if you violate those you can be fired or sued). You have to think of state and case laws (because if you violate those you could be fired, criminally and civilly charged). And you have to decide quickly because soon you could be dead. If you deploy your Taser when you weren’t supposed to or press the trigger one too many times because the person is bigger and stronger, already punched you in the head, and they keep getting up after the 5 second Taser deployment, you could lose your job and be sued. If you pull your gun and shoot someone because they weigh 50-100 pounds more than you and told you they weren’t going to jail while they appear ready to eat you alive, you can be charged for shooting an “unarmed person”. So….we have to ensure that Officers have adequate training that gives them the confidence to successfully choose non violent options of controlling and exhausting their opponent without the need to go directly to a weapon if it’s not needed. If we do not, we end up with Officers shooting right away or worse yet, Officers Killed. Help us to help them change that. By keeping Officer safe, they keep the community safe and yes, even the people they arrest.
Here is where the HSDF comes in. After graduating from the police academy, Officers have a few options. They can do nothing. They can attend defensive tactics training electives which are sometimes held at the academy a few times a year. They can also attend a local martial arts training center. Academy elective training is a great opportunity but not all offer this training. A lot of officer’s have told us that they do not attend ground fighting at their academy because they don’t want to get “beat up” like they did in the academy. Rightfully so, but there was a reason for that in the academy. We get it, ego plays a big role. Other officers said they feel the techniques they learned in the academy have not worked in the past. Some officers have told us that shortly after joining their local martial arts training centers, the training environment was not always the most police friendly which resulted in unnecessary injuries and fear to train. There is also an upward cost of $150-$200 a month membership which can deter already underpaid officers from continuing to train.
“When officers with minimal training face a stressful situation with a violent combative person and rapidly evolving circumstances, they will generally experience a fear based response. This means that officers may immediately revert to a weapon or deadly force as an instinctual option or officers could hesitate or use ineffective tactics which results in the officer becoming a victim of a violent crime.” -HSDF Team member
Military Police Officers receive combatives training but this seems to be standard for all soldiers which means Military Cops are dealing with other soldiers who know the same tactics and counters as they do. That’s like playing checkers with someone that knows all your moves.
EMS Professionals receive all kinds of amazing life saving medical training. Self Defense is not one of them. Not typically. With drug overdoses and patients suffering from extreme mental disorders, assaults on EMS Professionals are on the rise from the scene of a motor vehicle crash, to a residence, back of an ambulance or at the hospital, EMS Professionals are right in the mix. It is common for EMS to arrive on scene of a medical call and request police to “step it up” because of a disorderly or violent patient. Don’t forget, EMS Professionals still have the duty to care for the patient but they have to be able to protect themselves first.
For those reasons the HSDF shares simple and effective jiu jitsu knowledge through free workshops which compliment civilian/military Police Officers defensive tactics and provide basic fundamentals for EMS Professionals. We also sponsor certified Civilian and Military Police Officers to attend the 5 day Gracie Survival Tactics Level 1 or Level 2 courses held throughout the United States. The GST Certification provides the student with the knowledge but it also allows the Officer to bring it back to their agency to teach their entire department. Please check out our Survival Tactics section for more information.
Law Enforcement Canines
Unfortunately, a lot of police canines units are considered non-essential by their agency and are not always supplied with the equipment they need. Approximately 90% off all LEO K-9 units rely on donations to function. Canines are called upon to apprehend the most violent criminals in the most dangerous situations, but they are not always afforded the same protection as human Officers. If an agency does not purchase a ballistic vest for the canine, it will go without protection until the handler purchases one or funds can be donated. We recognize this deficiency and work with Law Enforcement agencies to determine the need for canine ballistic/knife protection vests. We work with a reputable company that provides custom made vests at a discount of $1,800 each so we rely heavily on sponsors to help with these purchases.
Much like human Police Officers, Canines are also sometimes injured in the line of duty while apprehending suspects and in vehicle crashes. In January 2019, an HSDF team member's patrol vehicle was struck by a drunk driver while he was on the side of the road assisting a stranded motorist. The K-9 was rushed to a nearby emergency veterinary center and was treated for cuts, fractured teeth and a concussion. The next morning doctors had concerns of neurological injury and the K-9 was airlifted to Penn Vet Animal Hospital where he was treated and admitted for the night. The outpour of support and care packages received from all over the country provided an amazing mental and physical calm not only to the canine but the handler as well. (The K-9 has since returned to full duty.) Since then we have made the decision to show our care and support for K-9s injured. The road to recovery can be tough so the HSDF has partnered with Tanners Endless Love and Concord Pet to send care packages to injured police canines throughout the country. How cool is that! Yep throughout the country. We’ve sent them to Alaska, Florida, Massachusetts, and everywhere in between. Check out our Furry Heroes page for canines we’ve helped with your support.
The HSDF is voluntarily staffed by Veterans ensuring that 100% donations received go towards the mission. Our team works full time but we believe in the cause. You can visit our webpage and Facebook page to see how your contribution is helping. You may even see your local First Responder or Canine equipped with it or using it save a life!
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From all of us here at the Heroes Self Defense Foundation,
Thank you for listening to our story and we appreciate your support!
The Heroes Self Defense Foundation Team