Defensive Tactics for Today’s Law Enforcement

by Mark Rowe

Author: Stephen K Hayes and Joe Niehaus

ISBN No: 9781498776677

Review date: 29/11/2023

No of pages: 222

Publisher: CRC Press

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 16/03/2017


Defensive Tactics for Today’s Law Enforcement CRC Press, paperback



The preferred options for many US police departments are pepper spray and the Taser; neither have totally rave reviews, the tools (‘self-defence in a can’) are not effective in every situation. A new book, Defensive Tactics for Today’s Law Enforcement is about and is aimed as the cover picture suggests at North American police; but as the authors say early on, it’s also for anyone whose work requires of them personal security.

The authors set out how police forces have come on from more or less giving a new starter a badge and a gun and sending them out. But even if recruits are taught martial arts, or ‘defensive tactics’, the authors query if the teaching is adapted to male and female, large and small person (and bear in mind that you can be large, but what if the attacker is even larger). And any training has to be alive to the question of time; that a situation can develop rapidly, and the officer is usually lagging behind the other person, who decides to be aggressive, and starts his actions leaving the officer to catch up mentally, and physically. In other words, it pays to detect a potential attack, to use skills as an observer, ‘and to pay attention to the physical cues that are given off from a person just before initiating an attack’. That body language can be as obvious as clenched fists and someone taking off a hat or watch, to someone stopping moving or speaking.

Besides, what’s the good of teaching something if it’s not relevant; put another way, what are the sorts of situations that the police force has on its books? The authors give the example of the Los Angeles Police Deaprtment. It listed five: an officer took someone by the arm, who pulled away (what next?); a suspect ran at an officer and attacked with arms and legs; the suspect ran from an officer, and both went to ground; the suspect took up a fighting stance then waited; and the suspect was about to be handcuffed.

This book is welcome as an aid to self-defence, both as grounded in the real world – an officer is not always going to conveniently encounter people smaller than they are – and for urging proper application. As the authors wisely point out, unless as in martial arts training is ‘burned’, or drilled, into mind and body, when you face a crisis, you will revert to what your earliest learning. Take time over your learning, and you gain confidence. Again, the authors are realistic; people have other demands on their time, hence the need to take advantage of every edge – such as those body language cues of aggression about to start.

The book covers your response to a punch or kick or weapon or other attack; what to do if you’re on the ground – whether you’ve fallen and can fend off the attacker, or whether the other person is on the ground with you; and what to do about an attacker’s weapon, including use of an improvised weapon, such as a chair. The book comes with plentiful colour illustrations to show the moves as described in the text. And it’s not all about fists and feet; a final chapter covers report writing and being a witness in court.

In summary, while the book is about and for US police officers, for instance quoting only US case law, the book has much to say to the private security officer, as it’s not about pulling a gun out and shooting, whatever the movies or headlines might suggest. That said, the book does close with reminders that in a fight it can come down to the ‘warrior mentality’ and the will to survive, if others are using lethal force.

Table of Contents





Chapter 1 Why Change Defensive Tactics Training

Chapter 2 Foundation of Defensive Tactics Training

Chapter 3 The Pre-Emptive Response

Chapter 4 The Strategic Response

Chapter 5 The Evasive Response

Chapter 6 The Grounding Response

Chapter 7 Ground Fighting

Chapter 8 Edged Weapons

Chapter 9 Special Circumstances

Chapter 10 Integrated Use of Force Training

Chapter 11 Report Writing – Courtroom Testimony

Chapter 12 Court Decisions

Chapter 13 Final Thoughts

Author Biography



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