Monday, 12 May 2008

On Using My Asp

So far in my career I have used my asp only once in anger, outside of a public order situation.

Of course, I have used it to smash windows, search shrubbery, and poke sleeping colleagues, and have drawn it and racked it many times in readiness, but the truth is that in most of the one on one violent situations I have been in I have not had the time or the space to draw and use it.

I might have been justified in using it, but picture the scene - Police are fighting in a very thin hallway with a suspect for a domestic. He's drunk, possibly on crack and used a knife on his victim which we think he still has. He also has a long history of violence against Police. Only one person can get to him at a time - but the last thing you want is him getting away further into the house where he can arm up, have time to get his weapon out and/or barricade himself in with the victim.

So one by one, coppers try and fight him, and an asp would knock out the Police Officers before it did any harm to the suspect. Even if there was room to draw and rack it.

So although I think it's a useful piece of kit, I think most members of public would be surprised how little it is used.

The scenario described above is a common one; the area I work in has a lot of blocks of flats and housing estates with the horrible thing corridors.

Just before going on annual leave I went to yet another shout the same as above. Police had attended the address and were talking to the victim when the suspect came back. One of the officers on scene had time to call for urgent assistance, and it was immediately obvious that there was a "large disturbance in background" as our reports like to say.

We were all making our way, but of course most of us were on the opposite side of the division. Nevertheless, I was the second responding unit to arrive on scene, to find the situation as above, with lots of screaming and shouting and a Detective from a neighbouring nick sitting outside the front door bleeding and calling for more help on the radio; CID had luckily been in the area doing enquiries and actually had radios turned on, so ended up assisting.

We charged in and I stretched around to try and get a hand on part of the wriggling and fighting suspect in order to try and drag him out to try and control the situation. My crewmate ran out and I found out later smashed a window to climb in the house in order to tackle the suspect from the other side of the corridor.

One of the initial officers, injured and by this point no doubt exhausted, drew his CS and sprayed it.
This was very effective, much more than an asp would be.

On the Police Officers anyway.

As we finally dragged the suspect out, with tears rolling down our faces and coughing, ripped uniforms and two injured officers in tow, the suspect still had time to attempt to headbutt two officers, and to kick a sergeant who had arrived on scene. Not a good idea, incidentally.

As the suspect was pushed into the waiting van and the doors shut, the extractor fan was switched on, and it was immediately obvious that the suspect was recovering from the CS exposure quicker than we were.

London Ambulance attended and cleared away the injured officers to a local hospital, whilst half of the shift trekked back to custody to try and get changed/write notes/wash off the CS crystals. And of course the officer who had sprayed the CS got a little ribbing from his red-eyed colleagues.

I'm not saying I don't want CS or an Asp, but I think it's easy to feel brave with a kit belt on. Knowing their limitations is probably more useful than knowing their possibilities.

I mentioned this to a skipper who had arrived at custody to assist with the welcoming committee for the suspect. He turned to me, and said "Area, you're not a bad copper, but I wouldn't trust you to explore the limits of a wet paper bag without hurting yourself."
Good point, well made.


TheBinarySurfer said...

Just curious ATNS, where do you sit on the taser? And do you think it'd be a good idea to deploy handheld tasers (not air-tasers) instead of CS? (You can't "adjust" to a taser!)

And the spray does jack you're quite right (got a test spray in the faceful once - still able to fight and function just with more snot!)...

For The People said...

Well put!

Happy Met Copper said...

The problem with our officer safety kit is that it will be ineffective on anyone who is high, drunk, really wants a fight or has a large amount of adrenaline surging through their body.
This is usually why it ends up with numerous coppers hanging off one suspect.

At the moment we don't have many other options, however only today in the papers the Home Secretary states that she is "committed to giving our cops the weapons they need" i.e. Tasers. How will the public feel about this, fearful that the police are being given more powerful items at our disposal, or thankful that we may eventually have the tools we need.

Anonymous said...

Why not use the Baton in the closed mode, as it is designed to be used in confined spaces?

Roses said...

I was first shown an asp by a lovely, blue-eyed PC attending a burglary. He claimed that with a flick of his wrist, this steel re-inforced baton would extend and be ready for action.

You mean there are other uses for an asp?

Metcountymounty said...

CS is guaranteed to effect the coppers but only a slim chance of the suspect, especially if drunk or high on adrenaline, asps are crap for the same reason, no pain compliance unless you break a bone - which never looks good.

Our cuffs are about the best bit of kit we get issued with, they tend to work exactly as designed on everyone bar the Hulk, other than that the human body has 9 natural weapons (feet, knees, hands, elbows and head) which are all considerably easier to use in small spaces, require very little gym time to actually learn how to use properly and will not affect everyone else around needlessly.

RandomPinkness said...

"Area, you're not a bad copper, but I wouldn't trust you to explore the limits of a wet paper bag without hurting yourself."... A wee bit harsh... but knowing you, true ;)

"gunner" said...

"Area, you're not a bad copper, but I wouldn't trust you to explore the limits of a wet paper bag without hurting yourself."..."

don't you just love it when the brass give you a nice rousing vote of confidence, just warms your heart it does.

TWINING said...

ASNT - that's what skippers are for!

Anonymous said...

I'm glad its you guys that have all this kit....... I have been told that if I ever got into any bother a portable oxygen cylinder swung in a certain manner could do enough damage to have time to put my fitness training to good use!

Wonder it the police fancy taking this option when in the presence of an ambulance crew?!

thoughts running through my head.... said...

captor is better-if you can actually hit their eyes that is,but useless on anyone drugged up or 'really really angry'!!I've only ever used my baton once to thwack someone fighting who didn't stop when I told him to.

Area Trace No Search said...

Gunner et al; I think it's called a vote of confidence from my management.

Louise - It's always nice to learn tricks of the trade from ambo crew (their is a couple I use regularly now), but smacking someone with an oxygen cylinder might take a lot of writing up. I'll help you do it though.

The Binary Surfer - firstly, just wanted to say thanks for your regular comments, quite often they are better written than my original posts.
And Taser? Yes please.
The paperwork that goes along with using Taser? No thanks...

Anonymous said...

Logbook and alsoD3 Gold keys easily arrested along with a landscape employs involving a couple of coppers working between the two Guild Wars 2 Goldtransferring all the kit in one car to another.