How do you safely remove handcuffs when placing a suspect inside a jail cell?
Sometimes it’s easier said than done, especially when the guy wearing the cuffs is 6’6″ and weighs over 300lbs—a solid mass of hard-packed muscle that was designed to break bone and blacken perfectly good eyes. So you and the eight other officers it took to get Bobby Bodybuilder to the cell block, all give one big heave-ho, forcing the over-sized version of Ah-nold Schwarzenegger through the door. Hopefully, someone will remember to close and lock it.
To remove cuffs from the wrists of “good” bad guys, officers have the suspect(s) step inside the cell and then close and lock the door behind them. The prisoner then places his cuffed hands to the rectangular opening in the cell door. This allows officers to safely unlock the handcuffs. The same opening in the cell door is used for passing food trays to the prisoner(s) inside.
When officers bring a suspect to an interview room they’ll normally leave the cuffs on their prisoner. If officers are removing cuffs from a prisoner outside a cell they’ll apply a wrist lock technique for control before unlocking the restraints. Two or more officers should be present anytime they’re removing cuffs in an unsecured area.
The picture above is of a typical holding cell. The platform to the right is the bed (without a mattress, which by the way, is not much more comfortable than the concrete and tile platform).
In the rear of the cell is a stainless steel toilet/sink combination—good for taking care of bodily functions, clothes washing, passing messages to a friend in another cell (details another day).
A polished steel mirror hangs above the sink. The heavily scratched and dented faux looking glass is held to the wall with bolts that can’t be backed out without a special tool. The thick steel door is equipped with the aforementioned tray slot and peep hole. You can also see a round piece of stainless steel on the upper door. This is a receiver for a computerized device called “The Pipe.”
Jail officers carry the pipe with them as they make their rounds, touching the end of the apparatus to each receiver throughout the jail or prison. The receiver uploads the time and date into the pipe. At the end of the officer’s shift he/she inserts the pipe into a terminal inside the jail’s master control room.
The computer then records every movement the officer made during the day. There are also many, many security cameras throughout the institutions that send their images to the main control booth.
Cameras are okay, I guess. They do offer a view of the goings-on throughout the facility. However, officers often forget the cameras are there, especially the tired and sleepy officers working graveyard shift. First thing you know, one of the sleepy-beauties decides to sing a little song to help keep him awake. So he pulls out his can of pepper spray and uses it as a pretend microphone as he warbles and screeches out a chorus or two of “It’s Raining Men.” And this is without auto-tune. Next thing they know, he’s entertainment for the entire supervisory staff and control room officers.
Cameras don’t lie…unfortunately.
*I’m doing a bit of traveling today, so please play nice while I’m away.