Bat Belt Syndrome

There is no guarantee that a less-lethal tool will be effective.

As you can see, no matter how many tools we have at our disposal, they will never replace the need for sound tactics. Police work will always be a "hands on" profession. Here's why:

  • Situations can deteriorate quickly and there might not be time to deploy a less-lethal tool
  • There is no guarantee that the less-lethal tool will be effective
  • Even after a less-lethal tools has been used, the suspect needs to be handcuffed

Don't underestimate the importance of tactical communication (to prevent a physical altercation) and unarmed defensive tactics (when there is no time to access one of the tools from your duty belt). These are your primary tools. All else is supplemental.


Instructors should create scenarios in which the officer's first less-lethal option fails. This will emphasize to the officer the importance of being familiar with the placement of equipment of his/her duty belt to facilitate a smooth transition from one force option to another.

Have instructors attack the officer spontaneously, requiring the officer to defend against punches, grabs, and/or takedown attempts. This will reinforce in the officer's mind the importance of adhering to basic officer safety tactics, such as maintaining/creating distance, watching the suspect's hands, keeping the hands up, as well as performing effective empty hand techniques to negate the initial attack. Then encourage the officer to create distance and deploy the appropriate tool.

To add an additional element of realism to the training, equip officers with inert pepper spray, training batons, and a non-functional TASER. This enables the officer to actually use the tools rather than just saying, "I would use my TASER now."


Make sure your tools are in good working order. Test your pepper spray periodically to ensure that it functions properly by spraying a short burst toward the ground (in a safe direction). Test the batteries in your TASER and inspect the cartridges before every shift. If you carry an expandable or collapsible baton, make sure it will open when you deploy it. Last but not least, ensure that you are thinking tactically. Remember that the final weapon is the brain.

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