Control and Arrest Tactics Training

Guidelines for Safety

By Michael D. Schlosser, Ph.D.
Students crouch on ground during control and arrest tactics training.

Effectiveness in law enforcement control and arrest tactics training requires a safe environment. Trainers accept responsibility for maintaining that atmosphere. They must put their expectations in context and implement appropriate regulations. At the beginning of the training, it is important to explain precautionary guidelines, elaborate on them, and answer any questions. Instructors may require participants to sign off on these rules to indicate that they understand and will abide by them.

Many departments and law enforcement academies have specific guidelines to implement and enforce for maintaining safety. However, it is important to remind students and trainers of some relevant rules for control and arrest tactics to use during training.

Safety Guidelines

  1. No unauthorized weapons are allowed in the classroom. Participants accomplish control and arrest tactics training with duty gear, handcuffs, and simulated weapons—training guns, electronic control devices, inert pepper spray, and batons. Live weapons may not be necessary to achieve training objectives and can increase the risk of injury.
  2. Participants must remove jewelry before training. Watches, rings, and other accessories pose a danger to the students wearing them and to their training partners.
  3. Attendees must advise their training partners and instructors of any preexisting injuries. Many students train with minor injuries. However, they may need to follow modified training to prevent further injury. All trainers and students need to be aware of participants’ limitations.
  4. Students are on duty when they are in training and must keep at least one hand above the waist with their weapon side back. They must interact with each other and the public in the same manner. As a reminder, instructors may allow students to smack each other on the chest (without causing injury) if hands drop below the waist during training.
  5. No one may lean against walls or sit on the floor during training. Students should stand up straight or kneel during instruction. This shows the students’ interest in the training and helps them remain attentive.
  6. Injuries incurred during training must be reported immediately to an instructor. At this point, trainers must determine the correct action. Although not doctors and unable to diagnose an injury, they may make a simple evaluation to have the participant sit out, drive to the doctor, or go to the hospital in an ambulance, keeping in mind that it is best to err on the side of caution.
  7. Horseplay is not allowed. Students disregarding the safety of themselves or others will be removed immediately from training. Everyone must understand what is meant by horseplay.
  8. During training, if an applied technique results in pain, participants must tell their training partners, who then should release their hold. Many control procedures and pain compliance techniques are taken to the point of pain to ensure they are applied properly; however, this must be within reason, and a physical or verbal cue can ensure that the technique does not result in injury. When reviewing safety rules, instructors should demonstrate this for the participants.
  9. Students should practice as slowly as necessary to learn the techniques. Speed gradually increases through multiple repetitions. When learning a new skill, applying it too quickly results in a loss of proper technique.
  10. Participants may not display or practice their own methods. Students will perform only lessons taught by the instructor and avoid approaches learned through other classes, martial arts courses, or videos. Trainers are uncertain of each student’s experience and ability and should not permit the demonstration of a procedure outside the curriculum. Participants become confused when individuals demonstrate different techniques.
  11. Students or instructors may yell “time out” to stop training. This proves essential if someone is in an awkward or unsafe position that may result in injury if continued.
  12. Participants must ask an instructor before leaving the class area. Trainers hold responsibility for the safety of their students and need to know if they leave the area, particularly if they are sick, injured, or need assistance. Advising the instructor before leaving helps maintain a safe environment.
  13. Safety equipment is recommended. Instructors should propose equipment, such as mouth guards and groin cups, to prevent injuries. Even low-end drills produce the opportunity for someone to accidentally cause an injury to a fellow student.
  14. Instructors or students must call “time out” for any biohazard. Training will be stopped and the area disinfected. All students will leave the training area until it becomes safe to return.
  15. Covering cuts and abrasions before class is necessary. Instructors should provide tape and bandages for students who have wounds to prevent the transfer of bodily fluids during training. Even minor cuts beginning to heal easily can break open.
  16. Students should bring a change of clothes to class. Participants may get blood on their clothes. Instructors should have students change so they may continue training without the risk of transmitting bodily fluids to another person.
Dr. Schlosser is the director of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, Division of Public Safety.
Dr. Schlosser is the director of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, Division of Public Safety.

Law enforcement personnel practice making arrests during training.


For successful control and arrest tactics classes, participants must comply with certain rules. Instructors hold responsibility for ensuring awareness and adherence to these guidelines. Everyone serves as a safety monitor and has the authority to stop training if they believe someone may be injured. Adhering to rules and responsibilities promotes a safe and effective training environment.