Universal handcuff Keys Offer Added Protection Against Illegal Restraint|
If you look enough you can find buried among the many far reaches of the internet, stories of police officers and corrections officers being restrained and bound with their own handcuffs. Although this may seem somewhat silly on the surface to the casual observer, for the professionals involved it is no laughing matter. Once restrained, the officers’ ability to respond to a crisis situation is severely reduced or even eliminated. As a result, their chances of emerging from such a situation unharmed are drastically reduced.
It’s no surprise that when seeking to restrain officers or control hostages, violent offenders often resort to using the most secure and effective means available, which happens to be the very handcuffs the officer is carrying. The criminal in these cases is acting under extreme duress and is seeking a goal far beyond simply restraining his captors. As a result, he will seek the fastest and most effective means of restraint available to him once he has subdued any present authorities, but he lacks the training or experience to utilize them properly. Additionally, once officers are restrained, offenders usually dismiss the threat an officer once held, thus relaxing their guard and placing the bulk of their focus on their true goals.
This inexperience and single mindedness offers the restrained officer his best opportunities for escape, and if the situation and circumstances are favorable, regaining control of the offender. To do this however, he must escape restraint.
The handcuffs most commonly in use among law enforcement and corrections officers are made by Smith & Wesson and Peerless and utilize almost identical key lock mechanisms. As a result, most handcuff keys are nearly universal in their operation. Particularly among police and corrections officers, this universal operation is important because it allows different officers from different agencies to manage the same prisoners as they are being admitted and moved from one facility to another, transported to and from court appearances and moved from one housing unit to another. This is also important because it offers these officers their best chance for escaping and or reversing a hostage situation should they become restrained with their own handcuffs.
The single most important factor in escaping handcuff restraint for officers is preparation. First and foremost, an alternative means of releasing handcuffs must be available. The single best alternative is of course, for the officer to have a spare key on his person. Since he is being restrained, however, it is likely his captor will of course remove his normal service equipment, including his keys. To circumvent this, an officer can keep several keys on his person. These backup keys however must be well hidden and difficult to detect. One excellent alternative is the Universal Handcuff Key offered by Larson Electronics and distributed by their site, Larson Electronics.com. These universal handcuff keys are designed to be easily concealed and avoid detection by electronic means. Usually constructed of a high strength thermoplastic, these keys have no metal in their construction and are formed within a circular ring to hide their shape, yet which can be easily removed for use of the key. This design also helps in concealing them in various articles of clothing, or in extreme circumstances, directly on a persons’ body.
Once an officer has decided to make a concealed backup key part of his every day carry equipment, there remain a few considerations that must be addressed. First among these is concealment. An officer must be able to hide the key effectively, yet also be able to access it when restrained. This means carefully choosing a hiding location most likely to be accessible. With handcuffs, the most common manner of restraint is with the hands behind the back. Thus, an officer would be wise to conceal a key in the rear waistband tag of his uniform pants or pin one to the inner facing rear portion of his belt. Once the location is chosen, an officer would be wise to spend some time practicing escape to familiarize himself with any difficulties or special considerations he may encounter when attempting to use his backup key.
As a final note, most experts agree it is best to carry several hidden keys and place them strategically about your person. The conventional thinking is that if one or two are found, the others will be missed. It must also be considered, however, that if a captor discovers a hidden key, he may take more extreme measures such as removing all clothing. For officers, the best compromise is probably to keep only two backup keys and conceal them as effectively as possible. Particularly with offenders under duress and inexperienced in effective restraint of prisoners, the chances of them performing an effective search are quite low and so more than two backup keys is probably overkill.
Officers held captive by offenders have few options. They face an extremely high risk situation with little chance for improvement except a hope that their colleagues can effect a safe resolution to the crisis situation. Because of this, officers must be able to recognize and take advantage of any opportunity to free themselves and escape once it presents itself if possible. With a universal backup key, officers will be able to remove their restraints at will and make the most of any escape opportunities that may arise.