Why would we ever make the decision to hold onto, or pin, a potentially violent criminal? As a civilian, we have no responsibility to arrest or detain a criminal. To the contrary, as exposure increases, risk and danger increases.

To catch up, please read the first three parts of this series:


In Extremis Communication, Part 1


In Extremis Communication, Part 2


In Extremis Communication, Part 3


Exposure increases risk for the criminal and it increase risk for the armed citizen.

For the criminal, the less exposure, the less transfer of evidence, the less chance witnesses can observe the crime, and the faster they could get away.  More exposure equals more chance of getting caught. A criminal wants to get in and out as fast as they can. They want to get “paid” and get out. The more exposure (time) the greater chance something could go wrong.

The same is true for an armed citizen in an armed encounter. Pinning a subject in place, increases the time an armed citizen spends with a subject.

When I use the term “pinning in place” I mean, restricting the subject’s movement and directing them them into a position of extreme disadvantage. This does not mean we are physically pinning the subject with our bodies. A common police practice is to prone a suspect, face down on the ground. A prone suspect retains the ability to use their arms and legs and could propel themselves up or forward explosively. We want to restrict the subject’s ability to move explosively. Later in this article I will describe an effective method to pin a person.

Time spent focusing on one subject takes away from time spent securing yourself and loved ones and does not allow you to look for other potential threats within the environment. By necessity, we need to focus on the subject we can see and regularly scan our environment for additional threats.

Multitasking in dangerous environments is not ideal.  

As time passes, the criminal has more time to plan counter attacks or use threats or coercion to attempt to get out of the situation or turn the tables.

So why would we ever attempt to pin a criminal in place and not just move him out of our immediate environment (In Extremis Communication, Part 3 – Moving a subject at gunpoint)?

  1. When we visually clear the subject’s waistline we observe a firearm. By moving the subject we potentially give him/her time and distance to draw the firearm. Additionally, once the subject leaves our line of sight, they may arm themselves and circle back.
  2. The subject has penetrated into our environment far enough to bypass occupied areas or other innocent people and we would have to move the subject past them to get the subject out. Imagine moving a subject towards an exit portal only to have him jump into your daughter’s bedroom.
  3. For whatever reason you have decided moving the subject out of the area is dangerous. The exposure risk is less than the risk of moving the person.

We have already covered how to


  1. Order the subject to stop movement:  DON’T MOVE.
  2. Order the subject to move his hands away from his waistline:  HANDS UP.
  3. Order the subject to turn away from you one step at a time. You stop them when they are facing away from you: WHEN I TELL YOU TO MOVE, I WANT YOU TO START TURNING ONE STEP AT A TIME. MOVE.
  4. Expose waistline and impair subject’s vision: REACH BACK AND GRAB THE COLLAR OF YOUR SHIRT, NOW PULL THE SHIRT OVER YOUR HEAD.
  5. Visually clear the subject’s entire waistline:  WHEN I TELL YOU TO MOVE, I WANT YOU. TO TURN AROUND, SLOWLY, ONE STEP AT A TIME…DO IT NOW.
  6. Direct the subject to move the subject, in a circle, 540 degrees so the subject stops facing away from you.

And, how to move them.


  1. “I am going to move you to the door and let you run. If you do not follow my instructions or attempt to turn around and hurt me or my family, I will shoot you.  When I tell you to, I want you to move one step at a time”.  
  2. “Step forward one step, do it now”.
  3. “Step forward one step, etc.”


  1. Pick an appropriate place to pin the subject. You may need to move the subject from where you had them stop.  Move them one step at a time until they are in the exact place you want to pin them.
  2. If the subject is not facing away from you have them face away from you one step at a time:


Subject is told: Don’t Move and ordered to put his hands up.  He is then ordered to raise his hands even further.  Notice that in this picture Matt’s hands are up but we still can’t see his waistline. Now turn the person away from you by having them move one step at a time.


The subject is now ordered to grab the  back collar of his shirt with both hands (front view for clarity).


And, pull the shirt over his head:


Now we have a clear view of the subject’s waistline.

We then order the subject to turn, one step at a time, 540 degrees, so when he stops, he is facing away from us.



The decision is now made to either move the subject or pin them in place.
If we decide to pin in place, we order the subject to get down on one knee. Then the other knee:

We now order him to cross his ankles:


Each step in this process progressively restricts the subject’s ability to move.

We order the subject to sit back on his ankles.

We now order the subject to bend over and put his head on the floor:


(I am not responsible for Matt’s choice of rash guard! He had just completed training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and is apparently very comfortable with bold colors).

The subject’s movement is fully restricted. You are behind him and can observe him fully. His visual field is obscured.

If the police have not been called or you are alone, this would be the time to call, while still covering the subject with your firearm. Follow proper protocols for a police response and exactly and calmly explain the circumstances.

You have three choices when faced with a potentially dangerous threat, when you have a firearm in hand and the subject complies to your initial order to stop moving:

  1. Shoot to stop the subject from potentially injuring or killing you or others.
  2. Move the subject out of the area, essentially letting them escape.
  3. Pin the subject in place.

All tactics, techniques, and procedures should be trained extensively and ultimately under live, full contact, resistance.



Filed under Managing the Don't Shoot Yet, Tactical Communication


  1. Reblogged this on The Obsession Engine and commented:
    Excellent article series on a rarely-discussed problem – most bad guys give up when you point a gun at them! Now what?


  2. Pingback: Weekend Knowledge Dump- January 29, 2016 | Active Response Training

  3. Once the intruder/shooter/antagonist is in a submissive position is it appropriate or even legal to restrain them from further potential danger to family or congregation? I do not carry handcuffs but have a generous supply of automotive zip ties.


    • Dougover, like anything…it depends. Mostly on response times from police. I would rather not close the distance with the person.

      I will make an exception if I see a weapon when I am scanning for weapons. Once the person is in a disadvantaged position, I would want to advance and remove the weapon. The technique and tactics to actually do that somewhat safely are way to complex for a comment reply and may be another blog post.

      Automotive zip ties are pretty tricky to put on a live human and can be defeated rather easily. It is almost impossible to put them on someone with one hand. I have used a ton of zip ties on prisoners and really don’t like them. Some of the more modern zip ties are nicer and easier to put on but still fairly easily defeated. Look up 550 cord handcuffs on Youtube and you will find a ton of instructional videos on how to make them. They are a little more secure but all restraining devices are temporary.

      The bottom line is, if you don’t have a compelling and immediate reason to advance on a person, stay where you are, behind cover, and continue to communicate. If you live in the middle of nowhere and backup is 20 minutes or more away, you may have to restrain further, but that’s an entirely different post!!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Detaining suspects – a good way to go to the hospital or jail | the street standards

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