tradecraft…use of force [continued]

juvenile justice case files: use of force (the aftermath)

when i left off in the last post, i had just ‘taken a kid down’ and had him in a control hold on the ground (awaiting back-up)…

well, back-up did arrive…in the form of four other staff members…who all grabbed a limb and help me restrain the young man…

after a while, we were able to get him calmed down and into one of the quiet rooms near the staff office…i thanked them all for their help and they went back to their kids…

by then it was shift change and other staff began to show-up…after i had filled them in on the day’s events, they took over running the kids through their routines while i sat in the office and “wrote up the incident” (everything gets documented–especially, in cases like this–when you have to restrain a child/use force)

of the staff that were now “on shift”, one of them was my supervisor …he looked over my report and we talked about what happened…he said that i handled things well, best i could, given the situation…he said he would handle processing with brett…then, he asked me a really interesting question:

supervisor: do you know why he acted that way? i mean, do you know why he might’ve acted that way, today, specifically?

(i thought about it for a minute)

me: …a bad day?

supervisor: today’s your last day, right? your last shift. he’s on your case-load and you’ve got a good relationship with him…we see this happen sometimes…he knows you’re leaving and he wanted your attention…for some kids, for some of the kids that come through here…to act out, it’s the only way they know how to get ‘that attention’…

then he got up, shook my hand and said, “hate to lose you, good luck”…and went back to working with the kids…

and i was left there, in the quiet of the office, with that thought…


regarding the use of force:

  • sometimes you have to use force to keep people safe;
  • federal, state and local law enforcement agencies do a good job of instructing their officers in the use of force; juvenile correctional agencies don’t always do a good job of that (if i had relied solely on the techniques that they had showed me–during a half-hour training–i wouldn’t have been able to control the youth or the situation);
  • if you’re in juvenile corrections you might want to consider self-defense/martial arts training…add it to your repertoire…it just might make the difference in the way a situation is resolved (i studied judo and aikido and those skills have served me well…there are other arts that are equally effective);
  • appropriate use of force is key; the amount of force i used was necessary and reasonable in order to gain control of the youth–it was not excessive; unfortunately, there are some people in this line of work who like to “get physical” or “thump” kids…and who take things too far…not cool…we don’t need those kind of people in this profession

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