THE MAGAZINE

Situational Awareness

By Scott Taylor, CPP

A critical part of inoculation training is the use of tactical positioning. Training on tactical positioning is necessary to overcome a person’s natural response to confrontation, which is to face the other person head on.

When confronting a stressful situation, most officers will stand right in front of the person being addressed, look them in the eye, and speak with confidence. While maintaining eye contact and speaking with confidence are excellent tactics, standing directly in front of the person is far from ideal.

In the classic tactical positioning models, the position of standing right in front of the person you are dealing with is called the “inside position,” and it is the worst possible place to be. In this position, the officer is vulnerable because he or she is in easy striking distance of the angry patron. A review of countless hours of footage from aggressive situations and conflicts in entertainment environments shows that venue management is also prone to stand in this position when confronting troublesome patrons.

Fortunately, it is easy to teach officers to use the correct stance and positioning, and that can greatly minimize an officer’s chances of being assaulted in a conflict situation. First, officers should stand slightly off to the side of the person they are talking with and also turn their body slightly to the side. This makes officers appear less threatening while reducing the potential strike areas. It also means that if the other person wants to make an aggressive move towards an officer, they will first have to turn their body to face the officer, which the officer will see happening. That will give the officer that extra time to react. It is also much easier to step sideways to avoid an attack from this position.

Next, officers should be taught to place one foot slightly back as they turn their bodies to the side. This gives them a more solid base and if they are pushed, they are more likely to maintain their balance. Finally, officers should place their hands comfortably in front of them at slightly above waist height and hold one index finger in the opposite hand. This is a relaxed, nonaggressive position that leaves the officer’s hands in a position to either gesture or defend.

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