Defensive Tactics

DEFENSIVE TACTICS – The weakening of “The Force”
By Lt. Patrick J. Ciser, C.P.D. (Ret.)

Historically, police officers in the vanguard when it came to fighting crime and protecting the citizenry of our great Nation. Our largest cities were always dangerous places, especially at night, and the United States has always had a high murder rate. From the days of Al Capone to today, it’s our gangs that are responsible for much of the carnage. Knowing from the 1930s that the police are charged with the incredible task of keeping these thugs at bay while risking their lives, were normally supported by the majority of the population and politicians alike. It was assumed that the police had to be a “righteous” tough bunch that wouldn’t back down in a fight. As a bouncer in various clubs from ages 18-21, I used to think how cool it would be to be the “bouncer” of an entire city, rather than a mere disco or club.

To be a bouncer back then, and still now, you need to be either big or know how to fight. As a young man, I remember telling people that I wanted to join the police “force”, however, today you rarely hear that term as many want to call us “Peace Officers.” Some liberal politicians are even calling for police officers to be disarmed at a time when we not only confront violent criminals, but in some cases, terrorists as well. In Great Britain recently, the police officers on scene of a terrorist attack had to wait for “armed” officers to get there to confront the jihadist. You can have a lot of dead people with only a few minutes delay, yet still, some would like to reduce us to social worker status.

Now don’t get me wrong, a good cop, as well as a good father, should be able to be a little of both. I like it when I see cops that are also mentors to street kids with no father. But, when I see cops holding up silly signs saying “Free hugs” that’s when I think we’re going a little too far. Recently, the Arlington County Police Department in Virginia made a synchronized swimming video. This was comical and somewhat entertaining to some I would imagine, but not my idea of a well trained, austere police department.

In order to be approachable and compassionate, I guess we have to be clowns now. A father and the cop both have to be the authoritarian. A combination of a little fear and respect works well when molding children and street thugs. Some degree of caring and even love from individual officers can go a long way when molding our youth into good citizens.

I remember years back that to be a state trooper you had to be, I believe, 5’9” or 5’10” and a certain weight. You had to excel physically and be able to fight in the ring. Not everyone knew how to box, but that wasn’t the point, as they wanted to know if you would keep fighting back or fall down into a fetal position after taking a few blows. By the time I went to the Essex County Police Academy in 1979, boxing was no longer a requirement. I found out that one of the janitors was a decent boxer, so we would go a couple of rounds from time to time during our lunch break. I boxed in the Golden Gloves in ‘78, so I always thought it was a lot of fun. So now, EVERYONE gets to be a cop; how wonderful!! No height and weight requirements and no rough stuff at the academy.

“What did you say?” “Many are failing the physical requirements?” “No problem, just like the military, we’ll make them easier.” How sad is that to hear from a defensive tactic point of view? Big cities are no longer concerned if you had a minor arrest or smoked pot when hired. A bad credit score used to keep you out, as it was thought that you might not be responsible, and could perhaps even be “bought.”

Politicians are without a doubt our biggest obstacle when trying to perform our duty, as we’ve seen from Ferguson to Baltimore, giving orders to lay back. We took a sworn oath to protect persons and property. How do we look in the eyes of the public when we allow looting, arson, and mayhem to take place right in front of us? When a business owner pleads with us to take action as he witnesses his business being destroyed, how does THAT affect our self-worth? You decide.

Pat Ciser is a retired Lieutenant from the Clifton Police Department, and a 7th Degree Black Belt. He was a member of 5 U.S. Karate Teams, winning gold medals in South America and Europe. He is the Author of BUDO and the BADGE; Exploits of a 
Jersey Cop (, and is a guest writer for Official Karate Magazine.