L3 – 10.4 Orientation and Operation

Orientation and Operation

Handcuffs are restraint devices used to hold a subject’s hands securely. Each pair is made of two halves, each with a movable single bar and a static double bar, held together by a locking device. This device has a gear that ratchets into place with the cogs of the single bar in order to prevent escape (Figure 10.1). Another piece of the locking device, called a double lock, prevents the ratchet from working by locking the single bar into place to prevent the single bar from tightening on the wrist.

Figure 10.1: Handcuff nomenclature

A “set” of handcuffs consists of two of these cuffs linked together by a chain, hinge, or a bar (Figure 10.2).

Figure 10.2: Left to right: Chain, hinged, and rigid handcuff.

Chained handcuffs are generally used by security officers. This type of handcuff allows the handcuffs to turn in multiple directions, thus allowing for easier application of the second handcuff. This is even more important if the subject is actively resisting the handcuffing procedure.

Rigid handcuffs are best used when transporting subjects a longer distance, such as bringing someone from another jurisdiction back to the local facilities. This type does not allow for much movement or manipulation by the subject.

Hinged handcuffs are a mix of the two, restricting movement some but not as much as rigid, but easier to apply than rigid but not as easy as chained.

I    Keyhole Placement

In the past, many considered keyhole placement a safety issue, as people were concerned with the subject’s ability to escape using an improvised key. This may be an issue for those tasked with transporting subjects, but should not be an issue for those performing their regular duties.

II   Double Lock

Double locking the single bar in place may prevent unnecessary injuries caused by the single bar tightening onto the wrist. If this happens, the subject may receive severe bruises, lacerations, or damage to the nerves located in the wrist. This happens because the subject moves, either voluntarily or involuntarily, causing the single bar to tighten.

You should double-lock the handcuffs every time you place them on a subject, unless taking the time necessary to do so would place you in a dangerous environment. In this case, move the subject to a place of safety prior to double locking the handcuffs.