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Police trainers want to boost officers confidence in hand-to-hand combat

SALT LAKE COUNTY – A new philosophy is coming to how police officers are trained in hand-to-hand combat.  Trainers say it might help officers avoid using more deadly methods of protecting themselves.

Peace Officer Standards and Training officials say, in the past, certain combat techniques have been rather static, and in some cases, too much so.  Officers were given very specific instructions on which moves they need to use when a perpetrator approaches in a certain way.  For instance, POST Director Major Scott Stephenson says officers have been told to grab a person by the wrist during a fight.  But, that move can be extremely tricky to do.

So, instead of focusing on many moves, Stephenson says they’re focus on fewer, more effective ones.  “Instead of teaching to grab the wrist, it’s a cross-strike with a forearm.  That way, you’re sweeping a large amount of area regardless of where that punch comes from,” Stephenson says.

The goal of this new training will be to make officers more comfortable going “hands on.”  Stephenson says if police have more confidence in their hand-to-hand combat fighting skills, they’ll be less likely to use their tasers or sidearms.  He says, “The hope is that the officer will not panic.  They’re just thinking about the basic, simple response.”

The first class with this new philosophy will be taught in the second half of this year.

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