f) Contact and Cover
One of the most effective tactical practices developed over the past half century is the concept of “contact and cover” (it must be done properly to be effective).
It is obviously better to have two or more sets of eyes on any given situation.
PRO TIP: The cover officer’s sole function is to be the omnipotent eye and visible force presence for the contact officer–roles may be changed on the fly, but do not confuse them because evil can ooze into the cracks in your collective armour; do not double up on the contact’s role unless necessity dictates it (if you are both watching the arrestee, then who is looking out for you?).
If this does happen (such as during a physical arrest), both officers should be as heads up as possible, or “bad luck” will boot them in the face.
There are numerous examples of this very thing happening when two or more officers, often needlessly focusing all of their attention on a single party at the expense of losing sight of the big picture, get attacked by boots, bricks, or bottles.
Especially if you are on the ground, that’s when your head can look like a football to some drunken anti-cop idiots.
Such enhanced awareness is the strength of contact and cover, which is a simple, but sometimes incorrectly performed tactical technique that has kept legions of police officers safe for many decades for those lucky enough to have a partner at hand.
Solo officers, their exact locations known to Dispatch before an interaction with the public is made, should wait for cover if possible before taking action.
Having a strong force presence with an ability to back it up is a formidable game changer for sure.
PRO TIP: If you put yourself in a blind or disadvantaged position (like on the ground), then you cannot see what is coming your way, nor are you able to dodge incoming assaults.
Indeed, being in such a blind and vulnerable position may very well embolden nearby assailants, as they know that you are defenseless, are unlikely to bear witness to an assault, and they know that you are unlikely to disengage quickly to arrest them for any such assault.
If you are fortunate enough to have a long-term partner, you will be able to work out plans in advance for common arrest scenarios.
You should be able to read each other’s body language and policing styles, as well as communicate with subtle key words, or with facial and hand gestures.
You will see the non-verbal signals in your partner’s pattern of behaviour and hear it in his tone of speech to know when it is “go” time (long-term partners are often able to read each other as to finish off each other’s sentences).
Using contact and cover basics, the contact person, sensing that an arrest is imminent, will fully engage the suspect allowing the cover man to position himself to the opposite side of, or behind, the arrestee, ready to help seize control if needed.
Note, that if an arrestee is tracking the cover man’s movements, he may smart enough to have counter-offensive measures in mind.
Execute a coordinated physical arrest, clearly verbally communicating with each other as you do so.
The more coordinated you are, the less likely you will be fighting each other’s strength and technique, and the more successful you will be in the arrest process.
We have all experienced the use of physical force in non-coordinated ways to unproductive and awkward ends, so talk to each other to ensure that you are both moving in the same direction and with the same goals in mind.
The outlining of a plan of action is even more important when multiple officers are attempting to make an arrest.
Ideally, one officer should take command of a situation.