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Executive Director - John C. Desmedt 

What "Safety" Stands For

The Meaning of "System"

The Scope of Our Training

Integrated Training and Operations

"In the last decades, a number of vendor methods have been developed to help guide police trainers in their effort to instruct new officers in physical conflict control. Upon close examination, these approaches typically remain fragmented in that they focus either on one or more methods of subject control or on a particular type of weapon system. Most important, however, is the fact that none of these systems addresses the critical issues of when force should be used and, given the need, the description of the appropriate amount of force.

Protective S-A-F-E-T-Y Systems (PSS) unifies the total use of force into a systematic, logically consistent, theoretically precise scheme which enables police officers to use force effectively. It provides a comprehensive course of study that teaches the new officer the different tactics needed to control individuals. More importantly, it provides the officer with a detailed method by which the officer can determine the precise amount of legal force necessary to effectively control subjects."

Patrick R. Conley, Ph.D.


The methods or techniques taught in defensive tactics training are a matter of opinion rather than fact. This is also true of the training we present. The eventual value of this training depends upon what that opinion is based. We have based our system on the premise that training for use in periods of acute stress must be designed and conducted with S-A-F-E-T-Y in mind.

To be effective, defensive tactics (we use the term "control tactics") for law enforcement, probation / parole, and corrections should meet the criteria below.

The term S-A-F-E-T-Y has an actual practical meaning.

S-imple: so responses are easy to learn and apply.
A-cceptable: so the officer, administrator, and the general public will approve.
F-ast: so the officer can perform successfully in time without resorting to extremes.
E-ffective: so it can work for ALL officers.
T-rainable: so officers of all skill levels can learn and prevail.
Y-ielding: so the

  • officer may increase or decrease the quantity of control, and
  • system will work even if the officer makes mistakes

One of the rooms in our structural design is the room for error.

We do not represent manufacturers of weaponry or police equipment, so conflicts of interest cannot exist between what we believe is the most practical training, and specific products. Manufacturer related training is almost always oriented to a specific product. If and when we advise the use of a specific product, we have no financial interest in doing so.


A system is not merely a group of various unrelated elements or techniques. A system of control tactics is an understandable, clearly organized program of controlled responses that fit into a big picture according to concepts and principles.

If a technique or procedure is efficient, improves safety, and aids in establishing control, it is useful. If, however, the officer cannot readily recall and perform the technique without the benefit of constant use, the training is of questionable value.

In street context, instead of attempting to match quickly changing situations with one of a hundred techniques, the officer need only consistently apply a few principles and practiced reactions to enhance control. Instead of learning a procedure for each situation, the officer learns a mode of responding to various categories of subject actions.

We base S-A-F-E-T-Y concepts on the rationale that the techniques must actually improve the safety of all involved parties. If safety is not improved, the system is of no advantage over untrained reaction. If technique offers no advantage, there is no need to waste resources teaching and learning it.

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PSS addresses and organizes all modes and components of physical conflict control for law enforcement into sub-systems. We do not teach these sub-systems separately in the traditional law enforcement training format as blocks of instruction, such as "handcuffing," "self-defense," "baton," etc. However, for the sake of clarity, we list the sub-systems below in this format.

During our instructor courses, we introduce the participants to elements of the system in a specific order and for specific reasons. As we introduce additional sub-systems, the base of available control expands and officers practice classifying and responding to all situations and responses learned to that point. Ultimately, all practice leads to real life situations.

For example, we present the Principles of Control sub-system first. This component of the training prepares the participant to make decisions about the appropriate use of force, and the psychology and biomechanics involved. Next, we present and practice Assailant Control until trainees gain the basic competencies and understanding of these principles.

After the participant has become familiar with controlling the assailant, we introduce Resister Control. We then further practice Assailant Control along with Resister Control and so on through all of the sub-systems. As one can deduce, all control methods are, by definition, logically based on the subject's actions.

We begin teaching practical instructional theory immediately. Student teaching is initiated after the instructor candidate has some idea of the content of the system. Because of the wide range of knowledge and skill involved in creating a physical conflict control instructor, we gradually integrate the training in the various sub-systems along with practice under increasingly complex conditions.

The content and practice blocks are not compartmentalized in training because control alternatives are not compartmentalized in real life. Depending upon the perceived needs of the agency, we can delete, somewhat alter, or add specialized blocks of instruction. Specific local laws or court decisions, for example, may cause alterations, which would not affect S-A-F-E-T-Y or the integrity of the system. Additionally, local conditions or unique tasks may present the need to modify tactics. However, when we modify a tactic, we do so with S-A-F-E-T-Y in mind. We teach and practice all control measures under increasingly complex conditions until we simulate real world conditions.

Below we list the elements which we believe are necessary to teach practitioners to control any situation reasonably, and to teach instructors to safely conduct the training.


  • Principles of Control How control works
  • Trauma Control Protecting from impact injuries
  • Assailant Control Including the use of OC
  • Resister Control Controlling subjects who neither cooperate nor attack
  • Cooperative Subject Control Controlling subjects who neither resist nor attack, (no matter how dangerous)
  • Impact Weapons & Control Instruments Use of batons and non-impact mechanical control tools
  • Weapon Control Disarming subjects and defending (retaining) the officer's weapons
  • Movement and Team Tactics Tactical movement and positioning
  • Vehicle Arrest Training Operating in and around vehicles including vehicle stops and knock-offs
  • Entry and Clearing Basic entry and clearing operations for various levels of risk
  • Tactical Simulations Simulations to learn to apply use of force decision making and tactics
  • Testing Elementary Performance Testing, simulation testing, and written testing


  • Legal Aspects of Instruction What is required? What is prohibited? How to avoid trouble
  • Psychomotor Learning Theory How people learn physical / mental skills
  • Instructional Theory and Practices The basics of instruction
  • Psychomotor Skill Instruction How to instruct for job tasks that involve situational decision making
  • and physical responses
  • Correcting and Coaching How to effectively guide trainees to practice with greatest benefit
  • Designing Situational Training How to create safe, meaningful, and productive training
  • Situational Critique and Debriefing The method for helping trainees learn from situational practice and
  • cooperate in correcting "mistakes"
  • Instructor Duties Organization and use of instructors, facilities, and equipment
  • Performance Testing How to test trainees for competence in all necessary modes
  • Injury Prevention Safety practices for instructors and trainees
  • Care / Evaluation of Training Injuries How to reduce the probability of injury, evaluate and plan for the proper care of those that do occur


Generally, standards and licensing for defensive tactics instructors or instruction are non-existent. Anyone may conduct this training. Standards, if any, are a matter of local or regional jurisdiction. Just as a warranty on manufactured goods is only as good as the manufacturer, defensive tactics training is only as valid as the developer and to a lesser degree, the instructor. In 1984, we developed, and subsequently presented "Standards for Defensive Tactics Programs" to the National Association of State Directors of Law Enforcement Training (NASDLET) at the FBI Academy, Quantico, Virginia. We also presented these standards to the now defunct Justice System Training Association, many members of which are currently commercial defensive tactics trainers. It is safe to say that, apart from legally constituted jurisdictions, we set the standards in this field.

The reality of use of force training is that the best physical and legal defense is logical training and subsequent supervision. These qualities serve to defend the agency, the trainer, and the practitioner. However, while trainers can decrease the probability of paralyzing confusion and gross error, officers may choose to act inappropriately. Supervisors may fail to supervise and coordinate. In these cases, the interests of the agency and the officer may differ. The "Use of Force Model" in fact, will quickly assess not only proper officer reactions, but also the probable degree of impropriety. All training is the responsibility of the agency. Therefore, it is prudent to secure the best provider.

Our system includes all components necessary to initiate our physical control procedures, including overcoming the barriers that usually keep training from actually being used on the job. Even if the training is valid and the instructors competent, the training may not transfer into appropriate use. This problem is predictable. It is also solvable. Training must be integrated into the organization, but some problems do not have training solutions. We can assist in identifying and developing a plan to overcome these barriers to the transfer of training so that the training is used.

Our control tactics instructor course contains all necessary tactics with appropriate theory, as well as instructional theory and practice. We devote about 20% of our entry level instructor course to learning and practicing psychomotor skill training methods. As was mentioned earlier, we have, in fact, developed a total method for the teaching of open skills. Please refer to the attached published material.

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