Course Content
H-CUFF® (Hands-On Control Using Functional Force)
About Lesson

Handcuffing Tips

a) General Tips

Everyone has their own style and way of handcuffing—find a safe tactically-strong method and perform it well.

Some officers wear their handcuffs so that they would always be easily accessible and immediately ready for use with either hand (rear centre of duty belt or on the front of your carrier).

Other officers prefer them on one side (make this your non-firearm side).

If carried on your duty belt, be sure to secure them away from your holster, as they may otherwise slide under your thumb tab release when hanging up your belt.

As with all belt tools, be able to locate them and put them on by feel.

If you need to see how the single strands are aligned, then hold them up in front of you (rather than looking down at them) as this will literally put you in a heads-up position.

Handcuffs should be cocked or properly loaded prior to use (minimal number of teeth to push through).

ALWAYS cuff the subject with the hands behind the back (unless the subject is suffering from a disability or deformity) and search his rear waistband immediately after doing so (if legally allowable).

PRO TIP: ALWAYS check for tightness (at the sides of the wrist) and double lock handcuffs to reduce the chance of escape or injury to the arrestee’s wrists.

Worth repeating: search waistband first then the entire body after applying handcuffs.

Carry two keys (one key to remove the handcuffs, the other concealed on yourself for emergency use).

Trust no one regardless of sex, age, or race; it is dangerous to label subjects as being “safe”.

Subjects who expect to be arrested may have planned for their escape, so do not give them any opportunities to do so.

Handcuffs should ideally be applied to anyone under arrest and/or being transported for criminal investigative purposes, but there is now case law that requires specific reasons for using such, albeit minor, force.

Habit is the key to success in handcuffing; stick with the same procedures and technique-be thorough.

Disengage when you face a struggle of equal or greater strength (based on your training and experience) or choose another force option and act decisively.

Trying to handcuff a subject BEFORE the officer has control can be injurious for the officer and offender.

PRO TIP: You must “own” him first, then get your handcuffs out, otherwise you are merely handicapping yourself—your cuff may go sailing away during the ensuing scuffle.

Be mindful of contamination by blood and other bodily fluids; wear gloves whenever fluids are present.

Use precautionary Band-Aids on yourself (examine your hands for minor cuts).

Do not leave a cuffed party unattended as he may fight, flee, damage property, or be assaulted by others.

Avoid handcuffing people to fixed objects (arrestees need to be continuously monitored).

Two officers should use “contact and cover” to decrease danger to them both; both can apply cuffs when needed.

You should maintain positional and balance advantages over your subject, even when removing the cuffs.

PRO TIP: Placing arrestees against fixed objects in order to search them only increases their stability and ability to move.

Criminals train to subdue officers from the wall, kneeling, and spread-legged positions, as well as practice running in handcuffs, and picking locks.

PRO TIP: Handcuffs do not immobilize arrestees (they can headbutt, hip/butt- or shoulder-check you, bite, kick, knee, trip, spit, and run from you).

Officers should be able to handcuff both hands in just a few seconds, but speed is not a necessity if you “own” him throughout the cuffing process.

Most resistance occurs after the first cuff has been applied.

Assume that resistance will be met at any point before, during, and after an arrest.

80% of people who are arrested are under the influence of a drug, so they are slower but prone to making stupid, if not mutually dangerous, choices.

People under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs are 2 to 3 seconds behind reality and reaction time, so expect a delayed reaction to an arrest.

Wrists are oval and handcuffs are oval, so the cuffs must be applied from the sides of the wrist or skin may get caught in the handcuff teeth and this reaction to pain may be perceived as probable aggression, not self-preservation.