When Officer Rodriguez ran the plate of the vehicle in front of him on his mobile data computer (MDC), it came back stolen. Dispatch had already hit the alert tone when Rodriguez was picking up his microphone. He immediately gave his location and a description of the car.
Backup was on the way when the driver of the stolen vehicle unwittingly demonstrated his unfamiliarity with the territory by turning into a cul-de-sac. When the car stopped, Rodriguez took a tactically sound position and used his vehicle public address system.
Rodriguez ordered the driver to the prone position, but the driver squirmed on the pavement for a second and took off running. A nearby unit captured the driver while Rodriguez detained the passenger.
During a later interview, when the driver was asked why he ran, Rodriguez was not surprised by the answer. The driver had considered running several times during the encounter, and the unbearably hot pavement prompted his decision; he would rather risk further charges than endure the searing heat.Consider local conditions
Although there is a fairly wide 70-degree range for which it is appropriate to prone suspects on the pavement, weather extremes can cause other problems in law enforcement that need tactical considerations. Do a weather check during every briefing. It should be accompanied by other good-to-know things like road closures and local activities.
How does one accommodate for temperature? First, remember that in a high-risk vehicle stop, time is on the officer's side after the vehicle has stopped rolling. It takes hands, feet and keys to make a vehicle roll. Every agency's training teaches officers to order the driver to toss the keys out shortly after the high-risk stop begins. Likewise, all tactical training tells officers to watch the suspects' hands. However, do not assume that the keys that hit the pavement were the ones that started the car.
The most obvious solution would be handcuffing the suspect while they remain seated in the car. Handcuffing a seated suspect should only be done under certain circumstances. For example, when the officer, for whatever reason, is already on top of the suspect. That is, the officer is still up at the driver's window during a "normal" traffic stop and something comes up that requires immediate handcuffing. Going from high risk to walking up to the driver window is not an option just because the pavement is hot or cold. In this case, the officer must branch into a different scenario.
One alternative to proning a suspect is having them kneel. Officer teams can even lay down a covering on the pavement for a suspect arrest area, as the situation permits. Weapons are more available when suspects kneel. Consider methods that reduce balance, and therefore employability of weapons. For example, have the kneeling suspect cross his ankles and place one hand on the head, the other straight out, thumbs down. Seated arrest positions are all right, but not everyone can seat themselves on the ground without steadying themselves with a hand. The opposite is also true. Often, a seated arrestee can't pop up like a kneeling one can.
More officers are necessary if the arrest position is standing, as this position gives the suspect more mobility. Thus, it should be used sparingly. The advantage to a standing-arrest position is that officers also have increased mobility.Coordination
High-risk scenarios should be practiced until an entire team or department follows the written SOP and has a template for each scenario. Training sessions should always include at least one representative from an allied agency.
When practicing, officers should have three training goals:
- Who does what?
- When shooting, how do we deliver fire efficiently and how do we prevent crossfire?
- How does the team maintain communication?