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Photo courtesy of RIPP Restraints International, Inc. The RIPP Hobble

When examining police policies regarding leg restraints of any sort, one factor jumps out.

All law enforcement agencies that responded to The Californian's request for information treat leg hobbling and, if they allow it, hogtying, as a high-risk procedure that demands conformance to strict guidelines due to the danger the restraint poses to those caught in its grip.

Typical guidelines include:

* Immediate notification of a supervisor

* Once secured, the person should be placed in a seated position. Some departments allow detainees to be placed on their side. Detainees should not be placed on their stomach for an extended period as this may reduce the person's ability to breathe.

* Detainees must be constantly watched for medical distress or symptoms. Respiratory status and level of consciousness must be monitored.

* Many require that emergency medical services be requested to the scene.

Despite the high degree of caution, ironically, some departments remain vague about whether hogtying is allowed.

The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department, for example, notes that "a person is considered hobbled when they are handcuffed, their ankles are held together with a Ripp (brand) Hobble restraint device and the clip end of the device is not connected to the handcuffs. However, the department also includes policy on what it calls the Total Appendage Restraint Procedure, or TARP, which appears to be a hogtie position.

Asked for clarification, LASD Sgt. Rich Pena said technically deputies may hogtie individuals in extreme cases, but it's rarely if ever used anymore.

"In certain instances you can do it," he said. But it's just as effective, and less dangerous, to secure the feet with a hobble and close the long end of the strap in the patrol car door to prevent combative individuals from kicking the seats, windows or officers.

The Fresno County Sheriff's Department also allows the use of the hogtie, although that term is not explicitly used in training and policy guidelines provided to The Californian.

Nevertheless, a long list of "the dangers of hobble restraints and drugs" has been provided to deputies in Fresno County beginning as early as 1992.

Likewise, the Ventura Police Department does not use the word "hogtie" in the policy materials it provided to The Californian, nor does it specifically describe the option of connecting a leg restraint to handcuffs.

Under its guidelines for the use of leg restraints, department policy states that once secured, the person should be placed in a seated or upright position "and shall not be placed on his/her stomach for an extended period as this could reduce the person's ability to breathe."

-- Steven Mayer