Choke Holds: A Police Perspective Part 3/3

Today I’m concluding a three part series written by Deputy Karl Mai that gives accurate inside information on police choke holds/stunning techniques, how and when they are applied. 

Follow the links for Part I and Part II.

Welcome back, Karl!

Some final words about all of these techniques.

First, they rely on the effects of a fluid shock wave to have the desired results. It’s not enough to simply strike/punch the target in the described area. Police are taught to strike and hold the pressure of the strike on the targeted area for a second, so to send a fluid shockwave through the body tissues. Also, and this would apply to a carotid restraint as well, police are taught to not let the target simply fall to the ground uncontrolled after using these techniques.
An uncontrolled fall can result in unexpected injuries, especially to a person’s head. After striking the target, if the target goes limp, or gets weak in the knees, police will try to grab hold of the target and guide them to the ground to prevent unwanted injuries. This may not be feasible depending on the dynamics of the fight, or if there are multiple attackers, but the goal of preventing unwanted injuries is always there.
In the case of your secret agent, former Special Forces guy, the writer should consider how the character will restrain the target after incapacitating them, knowing that the target will get up fairly quickly and be very capable of continuing the attack/pursuit.

Some suggestions:

1. If going up against the police or other agents, would be to use the officers own handcuffs or flexi-cuffs (basically large zip ties) to restrain the officer during the precious few seconds they are incapacitated.

2. Have the main character carry handcuffs, or flexi-cuffs of his own.

3. Simply have the character apply the technique, safely guide the target to the ground and use those seconds to run away. If there are additional pursuers, would the character want to waste time handcuffing the officer while other officers/agents are closing in on him?

Another thing to consider is, how would other officers/agents respond to witnessing the main character apply these techniques to one of their fellow officers?  The answer to that question is it raises the stake . . . a lot. 

If a cop sees someone attacking one of their own to the point of incapacitation, it allows for a lethal response. In other words, the character who is actually taking special measures not to have to kill the officer/agent, may suddenly find themselves getting shot at. Or the officer/agent who is being subjected to the technique will likely respond with lethal force if they can manage to do so.
In reality, the officer can’t know what their attacker’s intentions are or what they will do to the officer once incapacitated. Will the attacker simply walk away? Will the attacker continue to assault the officer causing further injury to the officer when the officer is incapacitated? Will the attacker take the officer’s gun and kill the officer, kill other officers, or kill other citizens?
Therefore, when facing incapacitation, loss of consciousness, or being put into a seriously inferior position (such as down on the ground with an attacker on top of the officer), an officer may respond with lethal force. Other officers witnessing this happen to a fellow officer may respond with lethal force as well.

Karl, my personal thanks to you for all of this great information. I know it will definitely make my novels more accurate!
Deputy Karl Mai is a 16 year veteran of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in Colorado Springs, CO.  He has mostly worked street patrol and as a Field Training Officer (FTO), but has also worked in the county jail and as a Detective.

Author Question: Police Response 2/2

We’re continuing with Amy’s question about police response.

In short, police are responding to a presumed intruder though the intruder thinks he’s rented the place! The genre is romantic comedy. You can read the first post here.

4. Firearms drawn?

If they are carrying long guns, then obviously the weapons are out and ready to be used. It would be typical to have their side arms drawn in this situation. It’s justified for two reasons. The first being that the man in the house called to report an intruder on his doorstep, which is felony in progress.

The second is that they know this girl and they are automatically suspicious of the man inside the home, which is also a potential felony. Felons automatically get that kind of special attention.

5. If this is plausible and the cops immediately detain the man for suspected foul play, how would they detain him? Cuffs? Secure him in the back of a cruiser until they make sure the girl is okay? Pin him to the ground?

They are going to give him some verbal commands to exit the house, come to them, face away and put his hands behind his back. They would cuff him and they would probably place him in a patrol car. They could also just sit him down on the lawn and keep a knee in his back. It’s a little more aggressive and humiliating which looks to be the goal here.

However, this guy is going to be scared and confused and he may not like the cops ordering him out of his own place (or so he thinks) at gun point. This could cause him to hesitate and/or verbally object to complying with the commands being given to him, which would result in the police using a more aggressive, hands on approach.

6. The man is holding the woman at gun point until the cops arrive, and he tells the police this when he first calls 911. It turns out to not even be loaded, and he puts it away before he the police arrive. But if the cops believe he has a gun, and he’s the one to open the door, how would they react/respond? (i.e. guns drawn, telling him to put his hands where they can see him, patting him down for a weapon? etc.)

Okay… This question may actually change some of my previous answers, especially for question number three. If the man is holding her at gun point and he has informed dispatch of this, then the cops are going to roll all the way in lights and sirens. They would probably shut the sirens off at the end of the block so they can communicate over the radio easier. Cop cars don’t have a lot of sound proofing and the sirens really do hinder listening to and talking on the radio.

Secondly, they will use their cop cars to establish a barrier or cover for themselves at the street. Other responding units are going to spread themselves out to establish a perimeter around the home. Verbal commands are going to be shouted (or possibly called out over the public address (PA) speaker on the patrol car) to the home for the man to come out with his empty hands up and he’ll be detained as previously described. Mostly likely they would cuff and stuff him in a patrol car, as the cars are now right in front of the house. The general rule of thumb is always cuff then search the suspect before putting him in the car.

Also, the cops are going to clear the house to make sure there is no one else inside. This means a room to room search of the home with weapons drawn. They are going to open all the closet doors, check under the beds, check the showers, check the cupboards, check the crawlspaces and the attic, basically anywhere a person could fit into. This would be done immediately after the man in the home is detained. They don’t need permission, they’re just going to do it.

They will ask him, “Is there anyone else in the house?” They will proceed no matter what the answer is. They will announce themselves at the front door. “This is the Police! Is there anyone inside the home? If there is anyone inside the home you must announce yourself and come to the front door with your hands up. This is the police, we are coming in the house.” Two or three cops will clear the house together so they can provide over watch of each other and maintain security of areas that have not yet been cleared.

Finally, let’s not forget that the responding officers are going to get a coded channel on the radio before arriving on scene. This means that one of the police channels is dedicated to the units that are involved in this call for service and all other normal police traffic is goes to another channel. Depending on how quickly the situation is developing, the primary police channel may be coded and normal traffic goes to an alternate channel. However, since these cops in this scenario have to travel to this location and this is not a situation that just blew up in their face, the responding officers would likely use the alternate channel for their priority traffic and all other normal traffic would stay on the primary radio channel. Some typical radio traffic would be.

Lead Unit: “3 Adam 12, I need a code on channel two.”
Dispatch: “Copy… All units stand by for a code.” A two second, high pitched tone comes over the radio. “All units be advised that channel two is code for units responding to (address). All other traffic remain on channel one.”

After it’s all over and everything is secure and safe some typical radio traffic could be:

Lead Unit: “3 Adam 12, all units are code four; you may clear the code.”
Dispatch: “Copy.. All units stand by.” They do the two second tone again. “All units the code on channel two is now clear. All radio traffic return to the primary channel.”

Many thanks to my brother, Karl, for taking the time in answering these police questions.

It’s always good to have an expert on hand.


Amy Drown has a History degree from the University of Arizona, and has completed graduate studies in History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. An executive assistant by day, she also moonlights as an award-winning piper and photographer. But her true addiction is writing edgy, inspirational fiction that shares her vision of a world in desperate need of roots—the deep roots of family, friendship and faith. Her roots are in Scotland, England and California, but she currently makes her home in Colorado. Find her on Facebook at

Author Question: Police Response 1/2

Amy asks:
I’m writing a contemporary RomCom novel, and my opening scene involves the Colorado Springs Police Department. It starts as a sort of comedy of errors when my heroine returns from an extensive trip to find someone else has accidentally moved into her half of the duplex she rents. The man she finds there thinks she’s breaking in and calls the police. What he doesn’t know, however, is that my heroine is the daughter of a former police officer who has died and is very well known by the other officers on the force.
Amy contacted me as she was needing some police help, STAT, and my brother happens to work for a police department. Even though the questions are not medical in nature, the information was too good not to post here.

What follows is the scenario and her questions– my brother’s responses are below each question.

A special shout out to my brother, Karl, for giving such detailed answers. Part II follows next post.

Amy says:

The way I have written the scene, the officers responding to the call know exactly who lives at that address because they’ve known the heroine for years, ever since she was a little girl, and are rather protective of her since her father/their fellow officer passed away. So when the man who actually called about the break-in answers the door, they immediately suspect HIM of foul play.

One officer physically detains him on the front porch while the other verifies that the girl is OK. The man is confused by the fact that the woman whom he thinks just broke into his house is on a first-name basis with the cops, and why they are so protective of her when he is the one who called them. Of course, it is all resolved when they realize the man was given a key to the wrong half of the duplex and is supposed to have moved into the second story unit.

1. Is this plausible? Might two officers who personally know the address and the occupant immediately jump to this conclusion about her safety despite the fact that the man made the call?

If the cops know this girl and already feel an obligation to protect her due to the loss of her father, then it is very likely that they would take this stance no matter what the situation is, possibly even if she were doing something wrong herself. I will say that Colorado Springs is not like New York, we’re not going to give every cop’s kid or wife an automatic pass, but they will take care of their own and they would be ultra-protective of this woman who has a stranger in her home.

2. Would two officers arrive in one single cruiser, or two separate? The scene takes place in January — what color is the typical winter uniform?

CSPD typically rides in single man cars. So if there are two cops on scene, there will be two cars. CSPD’s uniforms don’t change for the season. They wear blue shirts (short sleeve or long sleeve) over midnight blue pants. The only difference would be if they are wearing midnight blue jackets over their uniform shirts due to colder weather.

The jackets have some reflective striping on the arms above the elbow and the badges used for the jackets are embroidered patches. The cops might be wearing a mock turtle neck, or some guys still go for the outer sweaters. They are also authorized to wear plain (no logos), black, cold weather, knit caps on their heads.

3. Assuming the man calls it in as a burglary-in-progress, are two officers enough, or would more units respond? Would they arrive silent/dark, lights only, or lights+sirens?

Only two officers would typically be dispatched to a call for service like this, but more would possibly respond for a couple of reasons. First, if more are available and they assign themselves to the call, then more will show up. This is typical because a burglary in progress is considered a high risk call for service and cops like to look out for one another and catch bad guys.

Second, if this girl is so well known within the department, anyone who can respond, probably would. It may be a way for the author to really drive home the girl’s popularity or the sense of protection the department has for her, when six cops, a sergeant and a shift lieutenant all show up on scene. The police would respond lights and sirens, but the rule of thumb is to shut that stuff down several blocks away. If it is after dark, they may role down the block blacked out and no matter what time of day it is, they will park two to three houses away and walk in. One or two them could pull out some long guns too (shotgun, patrol rifle).

Tune in next post for the remaining questions.


Amy Drown has a History degree from the University of Arizona, and has completed graduate studies in History and Archaeology at the University of Glasgow. An executive assistant by day, she also moonlights as an award-winning piper and photographer. But her true addiction is writing edgy, inspirational fiction that shares her vision of a world in desperate need of roots—the deep roots of family, friendship and faith. Her roots are in Scotland, England and California, but she currently makes her home in Colorado. Find her on Facebook at