Perils of Presumption

You can learn a lot from this video

By Tony Blauer  |   Apr 27, 2015

We recently revisited my treatise on the mindset of a police officer that I wrote three decades ago called “Presumed Compliance.”

Now out of Arizona we get a visual reminder of much of what we discussed.

What did you see? Watch the video and compare it to the bullet points in “Presumed Compliance.” I know it’s never popular in this line of work to critique brothers and sisters, but with the regular outpouring of videos we may as well get ahead of the others and, at a minimum, start using the tools we have to make the rest safer.

Overconfidence: As the deputies enter there is clearly some tension, one has an ECD drawn. Nonetheless, it appears neither is prepared for a physical conflict when it occurs. Remember: Not everyone submits when they see a patch and a badge.

Increased reaction time: Presumed compliance slows reaction time. If you don’t think it can happen, it takes longer to react when it does. Denial delays decisiveness.

Apathy: If it won’t happen to me, why prepare for it? Statistics are irrelevant until you become one. Then they mean everything.

Dull intuition and instinct: Not sure why, but of all the punches thrown in that video, not one was thrown by a cop. I don’t know too many juries that wouldn’t have seen few close-quarters tools as “objectively reasonable.”

Erosion of communication skills: Without sound it’s difficult to know exactly what was being said, but body language is a large part of communication. Presumed compliance erodes communication skills. Combine the finger in the face with a disbelief that the bad guy might attack and this is the result.

Following are a few more thoughts to bear in mind.

• Remember the “reactionary gap” doesn’t exist. It’s a misunderstood concept that should never have made it into LE nomenclature.

• When you suspect your suspect is combative: Remember that control tactics have zero application in an out-of-control confrontation.

• Electronic control devices are great—except when they aren’t. You need something else in your toolbox.

• You want to be safer? Start prepping before you get hit. Use this simple concept to ready your system: When you’re within arms’ reach (WAR) be ready for it … Get your hands up. At a minimum hands-up will allow your body’s survival mechanism, the startle-flinch response, to get involved.

Ultimately every officer and every department should be engaging in realistic, relevant and rigorous training. Scenario-based training with a combative suspect (role-player) is the only way test theoretical training and stress-inoculate.

Remember: Experience is something you get shortly after you need it.

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Tony Blauer
Tony Blauer is one of the world’s leaders in the research and development of scenario-based training for the military, law enforcement and self-defense communities. He’s best known for the development of the SPEAR System, an evidence-based defensive tactics program built around human physiology, physics and psychology. He also developed 'High Gear', the world's first impact reduction scenario-training suit. Mr. Blauer and his team are available for seminars and he can be reached at [email protected] If you're new to SPEAR, click here:
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