This excerpt of my book Street Cop is from Chapter Two: The Police Academy. If you like the excerpt, check it out, along with the rest of my books!
People have asked me over the years if they teach you how to fight in the Police Academy. My standard answer has always been, “They teach you just enough to get hurt.” In other words, if you don’t know how to fight and defend yourself to begin with, the little bit you get in the Police Academy is not really going to help you. The training is much better today, with an emphasis on ground fighting, use of pressure points and learning how to strike properly.
FBI Agent Gary tried to show us how to handcuff properly. I say “tried” because in the real world, your opponent is seldom compliant or letting you win. We spent so many hours handcuffing each other that our wrist bones were bruised and sore. One of the highlights of the Defensive Tactics Class was watching Recruit Paul (a guy) fight with Recruit Jodi (a girl). The goal was to get the other recruit down on the floor and then handcuff them. Paul never was able to wrestle Jodi to the floor or get her handcuffed. She, however, pretty much thrashed him every time they tangled. When it was Jodi’s turn to be the aggressor, she had no trouble at all body slamming Paul and then handcuffing him. It was pretty embarrassing but we all enjoyed the show.
Recruit Paul stuck around a few years but never really fit in. He moved to a smaller department and had a successful career. I don’t think he had to get into too many fights. Recruit Jodi worked the street for a couple of years until she got pregnant. After that, she worked in a non-enforcement capacity for a while but then quit to be a full time mom.
Another area of DT Training that Agent Gary instructed us in was that of disarming techniques, as in taking away a gun or knife from someone. I said earlier that Agent Gary was insane. We had already suspected it from some of the things he had said and had us do. Now he confirmed it. As he taught us how to take a gun away from someone, he prefaced it by saying, “I know that these techniques work because I always practice them against a loaded gun and I’m still alive.”
We must not have heard him right. One of the recruits asked for clarification, “Special Agent Gary, did you say that you practiced disarming techniques with a loaded gun?”
Agent Gary puffed out his chest and said, “Oh, yeah! Anybody can practice with an unloaded gun. You know the gun is unloaded and the adrenaline really doesn’t get flowing. But when my training partner points that loaded and cocked revolver at my head all my senses come alive. If I don’t execute my disarming technique properly, I’m a dead man.”
There was a stunned silence. We were just recruits but we knew that this violated every firearms safety rule that we had been taught. Was this the way they did things at the FBI? Is that the way that they taught disarming in their academy? Was this one of things we were supposed to be learning from “the premier law enforcement agency in the United States?” And this crazy man was going to show us “the right way” to do things?
We practiced the various disarming techniques that Agent Gary showed us. Of course, we used non-firing, training guns and rubber knives. We continued to enjoy watching Paul and Jodi working together. He was never able to disarm her but she took away his gun every time they practiced together. Agent Gary never encouraged us to practice with loaded guns. He just let us know that we were not getting the full effect by using training guns. I think our class was one of the last ones in which the FBI taught DT. Before long, we had our own DT Instructors teaching us “the right way.”
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