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What is empty-hand control during a police encounter?

| May 18, 2021 | Police Brutality |

There’s a saying that when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. People tend to use the tools they have accessible to resolve the issues that they face.

Both the training and daily work experience of police officers can influence the decisions that they make during an interaction with an individual. Carrying and receiving training for firearms often means that police officers reach for their guns instead of taking a different approach to diffuse the situation.

Officers have the right to protect themselves and the public from imminent threats of harm, but they should also attempt to resolve situations with the least amount of force possible. Often, that means employing empty hand control with a suspect.

Empty-hand control is an important step before using a weapon

There is a broad continuum of police officer responses that involve varying amounts of force. Sometimes, officers can resolve the situation just by showing up. Other times, calm speech from the police officer is enough for them to gain control of a situation.

Before they reach for their gun or pursue other less-lethal physical interventions, an officer should also attempt to employ empty-hand control unless there is an immediate risk. Empty-hand control involves physically engaging with a suspect without holding a tool like a nightstick, a stun gun or a firearm.

Officers may use their bodies to block a door to prevent someone from fleeing or may restrain, strike or even kick a suspect when engaging in empty-hand control. Much is left to the discretion of the officer involved. Everything from the kind of training that they received to how much trauma and violence they have faced on the job will impact how they handle someone during an interaction.

Those who have been the victim of unnecessary police violence may be able to hold the officers, police department and others accountable. An experienced attorney can provide you with guidance.