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Trainer Talk

Angle of Advantage: What it is and how to use it

Angle of Advantage: What it is and how to use it

Angle of advantage (AOA) is a defensive tactics principle that increases officer safety, situational awareness, and control. As we teach in ASP training programs, Angle of Advantage dictates that the officer stand and/or approach the subject from a 45 degree angle, whether behind or in front of the subject. This is one of those basic principles that’s worth its weight in gold. It can be employed in a wide variety of circumstances and be seamlessly integrated with other tactics. 

Some real-world applications for AOA Include: 

Field interview

The street stop is a common and critical situation in which to put AOA into use. While interacting with a subject, the officer (or officers) should stand at a 45 degree angle to the front of the individual, standing in the interview position. Officers should position themselves approximately two arm’s lengths away. The combination of angle and distance provides a better tactical advantage than standing close and/or directly in front. Remember, the subject has as many options as you do—the goal is to maintain control and advantage. 

Safe separation

When a subject has closed distance and made contact with you, a redirect is an effective way to re-establish safe separation. While maintaining contact with the subject, begin to move yourself (remember, it is usually easier to move yourself than to move someone else) to an AOA—in this case, 45 degrees to the rear. At the same time, direct the attacker’s energy away from you by pushing at his shoulder area. The combination of moving yourself to a different angle of advantage and redirecting the subject’s momentum creates angular and distance separation. 

Compliant handcuffing—position before approach

Once the arrest process has been initiated by stabilizing the subject, position yourself at the AOA. Maintain your distance, present your handcuffs, then make your approach and apply the restraints. 

Tactical flashlight

An officer can use a bright light stimulus to very effective tactical advantage. In ASP training we refer to this as the “Three Ds:” Distract, Disorient, Disable. Once the flashlight has been used to assist in control, move to an angle of advantage, then transition to other tactics—such as handcuffing—as the situation dictates. 

Pepper spray deployment

Pepper spray (OC), in a law enforcement context, is another control tool. After deploying the spray, move to an angle of advantage and prepare to spray again, or otherwise escalate/de-escalate as the situation plays out. 

After gaining compliance

Once control is established, the use of force ceases. If control was gained with a baton, it must be secured before applying restraints. The subject may be stabilized in a standing, kneeling or prone position. If you are not already in an AOA position, move to one and secure your baton. Present handcuffs, then approach and complete the handcuffing process. 

These are just a few common examples of implementing angle of advantage in everyday police scenarios. The more you work and train, the more you will identify other opportunities to put AOA into action. Like all good techniques, it’s simple, easy to remember and perform naturally, and proven effective.