Principles of Cover
While the police officer must adhere to training and department policy when attacked, the Bad Guy has no such limitations—the criminal is limited only by imagination, motivation (or level of desperation) and experience with violence. Departmental training programs and opportunities are limited, and can rarely train officers to a skill level that allows them to counter every possible attack combination. However, there is a simple skill—Cover Technique—that provides a reliable, basic level of defense against a sudden attack. This technique is fast and easy to learn and retain. It’s efficient for all law enforcement personnel, male or female, large or small, without long hours of training.
The Cover Technique can be employed from an Interview Stance and/or the Combat Stance, and can be done with one or both arms, depending on the vector of the attack, and the totality of the situation. The hand or hands are raised along the side of the head, grabbing the back of the head. The arm(s) are bent at the elbow to create a triangle, and the forearm(s) are snug against the temple. This provides a fast and effective level of protection from attacks to the head. Also, when the “shield” of the cover elbow is pointed toward the subject’s upper torso, the tip of the elbow helps to protect against a subject who continues to advance forward against the officer.
The Cover Technique can be used empty-handed, or with intermediate weapons and tools such as the baton, handcuffs or flashlight. Such tools should be held tight behind the head—not alongside it—when defending against an attack. With a flashlight in the hand, the officer can add defensive light technique by “painting” the subject’s eyes while moving the arm into cover position.
The overall goal of the Cover Technique is to protect the three knockout zones of the head: temple, base of the jaw and point of the chin. If any of these targets are left vulnerable during an attack, the officer is at risk of being knocked out… and that obviously raises the stakes substantially. Surviving the initial attack keeps the officer in the fight, helping to make sure he or she goes home safe at the end of the day.
Lieutenant, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office
ASP Trainer since 2015