Saturday, April 9, 2011

Police Gear: Handcuffs

Well there's not much to say about handcuffs that most don't already know, but I felt a post was needed as they are a very important part of the job and a piece of gear all officers use.

Handcuffs are restraint devices designed to secure an individuals wrists close together. They comprise two parts, linked together by a chain, a hinge or in the case of rigid cuffs, a bar. Each half has a rotating arm which engages with a ratchett that prevents it from being opened once closed around a person's wrist. Without the key, the handcuffs cannot be removed and so the handcuffed person is unable to move his or her wrists more than a few centimetres/inches apart, making many tasks difficult or impossible. This is usually done to prevent suspected criminal from escaping police custody.

Hand positioning
In the past, police officers typically handcuffed an arrested person with his or her hands in front, but since approximately the mid-1960s behind-the-back handcuffing has been the standard. The vast majority of police academies in the United States today also teach their recruits to apply handcuffs so that the palms of the suspect's hands face outward after the handcuffs are applied.

The Jacksonville, Florida Police Department, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and others are notable exceptions, as they favor palms-together handcuffing. This helps prevent radial neuropathy or handcuff neuropathy during extended periods of restraint. Suspects are handcuffed with the keyholes facing up (away from the hands) to make it difficult to open them even with a key or improvised lock-pick.


  1. Two questions - what is the benefit of applying the handcuffs so that the palms of the suspect's hands face outwards? Also, what is handcuff neuropathy?

  2. handcuff neuropathy is a type of mononeuropathy which results from acute trauma (from cuffs being too tight) to the radial nerve that extends the length of the arm.

    You lose feeling in your hands/arm which in most cases return

    And with the palms out its hard for the suspect to grab at anything

  3. Thank you for the response!

  4. I got a great info through this post.
    Thanks guys for sharing!!

    Law Enforcement Gear