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Creative Cuffing for Small-Wristed Subjects

Dr. Richard Weinblatt

In defensive tactics for policing, we’re always looking for ways to control (that operative word is bolded on purpose) the behaviorally challenged individual. Unfortunately, not all wrists come in a convenient size to fit our handcuffs. Many people with slender wrists, particularly juveniles, are able to slip out of the cuffs despite our best efforts to do the right things. This Weinblatt’s Tips column covers what you can do with creative cuffing to control escape-prone wrists.

By way of reminder, those “correct things” include handcuffing behind in almost all cases (except some situations such as limb disabilities, etc. which should be spelled out in your agency’s procedures), turning the keyholes in the same direction, “finger” testing for fit, and double-locking for officer safety. Hopefully, you also indicated that you double-locked the handcuffs in your report’s narrative. That documentation cuts down on those nasty complaints and tort claims.

But what if you tighten that single strand (or single yoke, as some refer to it) all the way down and there’s still plenty of room for the perpetrator to pull out? There’s not much control if the person can pull their hand out of the handcuff.

One solution is the use of flex cuffs. A couple of downsides are the danger of tightening them too much and not having the ability to loosen them and the need for a cutting instrument to slice them off. You also need to have those flexible restraints on you, not buried in the trunk of the patrol car.

Reusable flex cuffs are out there, however they are harder to find and tend to be used in training environments. Also, their locking and unlocking mechanisms take a little getting used to.

But wait, there is an even more convenient method that you can use to handcuff people who have slim wrists and it’s right on your duty belt. They are called (drum roll please)….handcuffs.

The trusty old handcuffs are the same. Your aim of controlling the subject is also the same. So what’s changed to make them work? It’s your creative cuffing application of the metal bracelets that is modified.

What I used to do with thin-wristed folks is have them (sometimes with some assistance- their tax dollars at work) place their wrists together behind their backs horizontally. I would then take one handcuff and place it around both wrists. Of course, I would finger test for fit and double-lock them. The other cuff could then be handcuffed to a belt loop on the back of their pants.

  • 101101_162533_53_max50


    over 5 years ago


    fantastic! i'm forever having to arrest daddy's little drunk sorority girl! can't wait to use it and pass it on to my shiftmates!

  • April2009_119_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Anyone still use thumb cuffs?

  • Chart_max50


    over 5 years ago


    I would caution against the "above the elbows" handcuff technique due to a possible interference with chest expansion during respiration. Plus NO handcuff manufacturer will say that their product was designed to be used in that manner.

    My "One size fits all" solution was always "Tuff Ties" Braided Nylon with a heavy duty plastic lock. I bought the Hobble sized which makes them truly multi purpose. They roll up really small for a pocket or tucked into a sock top. They work great if you have to secure an amputee, can be used as a field expedient tourniquet and Ideal for off-duty carry.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I bought a pair of plastic spacers from Galls for just this purpose. They snap on the single yoke and greatly reduce the size of the opening. They cost about $5.00 and take about a minute to add to your cuffs. This way, you can cuff in the normal fashion. I bought these while still in the police academy because we had two cadets who were so small their hands didn't even touch the sides of the cuffs as they slipped them out! Nice article though...

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 5 years ago


    if you have a pair of swivel cuffs you can place one inside of another and you can still place a small wrist person in them even if they are combative. if you cannot figure it out call me i will walk you through it.478-550-8288

  • Dsc_0524_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Very goog idea. I also have used a cloth nylon cuff that I got from some Federal Agents. You can only use them once, but they seem to work. Down side is you have to buy them unless you know someone that can slip you a few.

  • Freeze_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Outstanding! Very creative. If everyone is thinking the same, then someone ain't thinking. I will implement in our academy training. Thank you!

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    over 5 years ago


    Cool idea...would not have thought about that.......hey hookmhorns34 I not sure it works on meth need those pink furry ones I believe.

  • 2008_062_max50


    over 5 years ago


    also try cuffing above the elbows behind the back looks funny but easier to do alone when resisting,

  • American_eagle_getting_ready_max50


    over 5 years ago


    How did I never think of that... I will have to try that with the next 5'2" 90 pound meth queen I arrest...Thanks

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    Good advise I' ll have to try that on my wife, she always gets out the cuffs because of her slender wrists. LOL

  • Policeofficer03_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Besides using one cuff on both wrists as mentioned, you can link one cuff through the other handcuff and then put one wrist in each of the cuffs. By intertwining or entangling the two cuffs together it takes a full inch of "slack" out of the cuffs when they are snugged up..

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    ASP also makes some adaptors for cuffs for little wrists. Of course you must 1.) have them with you 2.) install them in the cuffs all while controlling the "arrestee". I use them mostly in prisoner transport situations, mainly juveniles, but you could have one set of cuffs available with the adaptors installed (an easy chore if u are not fighting the person.) just food for thought. PS the set of adaptors I have fit all my cuffs, ASP and S&W

  • 810004297_m_1__max50


    over 5 years ago


    Love to learn from the vets. Thank you

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    That has been around for years!

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