How Do You Handcuff a One-Armed Person?

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Police officers face a lot of tricky situations on the job, many of which get covered during training. Other incidents, like detaining a one-armed person with a set of handcuffs designed for two wrists, require officers to think on their feet.

This is the position Lieutenant Mark Rolland of the Springfield, Massachusetts Police Department found himself in when confronting a suspect in an unarmed robbery in 2010. In addition to being unarmed, the suspect—who went by the nickname “Lefty”—was also one-armed. This resulted in a highly unconventional arrest.

“There’s nothing written in stone about handcuffing a one-armed individual,” Rolland tells mental_floss. In this particular instance, the suspect was wearing a belt that made the arresting officer’s job a little easier. “His single arm was handcuffed at the wrist with the second handcuff being clasped to his leather belt across his back,” Rolland explained. “The handcuff was positioned past several belt loops, which prevented him from pulling the handcuff along the belt and to his side.”

Sometimes the suspect in question isn’t wearing a belt at all. For scenarios where this is the case, retired cop Tim Dees offered a few possible alternatives on Quora. Cuffing the one arm to an ankle works as a temporary solution when an officer needs to incapacitate someone in a pinch. In less extreme situations, the belly chain cops use to cuff a person’s arms in the front of them can also come in handy.

While the protocol for handling these situations isn’t necessarily something that’s taught at the police academy, Lieutenant Rolland’s experience has been used as a learning tool for some new recruits. In 2014 he became director of his department’s training division, where his responsibilities included scheduling classes. One of the speakers he selected always makes sure to bring up the incident in his presentation.

Lieutenant Rolland’s encounter made for a pretty amusing headline, but the one-armed arrest stories don't end there. In 2011, police in Belarus arrested a one-armed man for participating in a clapping protest.

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