Seeing The Invisible

At PoliceOne, Police Chief for Adams State College at Alamosa, Colorado, and the King of Listicles, Joel F. Shults, Ed.D., gives cops “6 ‘invisible’ signs that a subject is resisting a police officer.”

In response, I offer nine “invisible” signs that Chief Shults is totally full of shit.










You may not have been able to see it, but my muscles tightened and my breathing changed while writing this post.  I am, however, unharmed because of my attention to crowd behavior and extreme caution when it comes to people pinching my inner thigh while whispering unpleasant things to me.

H/T Grant Stern at PINAC

22 thoughts on “Seeing The Invisible

  1. John Burgess

    I won’t try to hijack your blog with invisible reasons 10 through 200, but I assure you that they’re equally clear and obvious to any right-thinking person.

    1. SHG Post author

      Taking my inspiration from the King, I’ve chosen to limit my listicle to less than ten so as not to overwhelm people with my mad skillz.

  2. dennis murphy

    Back in the 1980’s, the Tucson Police Department had training on when a police officer could strike first. I recall the term was resistive tension, or something like that. Signs included things like: teeth clenched, veins bulging in the neck, fist curled, and other less obvious ones. If you saw enough signs, you were OK with clocking the guy first. Of course, this is the same department that took care of the local homeless population by sending some of its finest on “lizard patrol” and rousting them from their homes. Amazing what you can learn by representing cops from time to time.

  3. bill

    B/c ‘6 invisible sings’ sounds a lot better than ‘6 excuses you can give when you’re caught lying about abusing someone.’ If one published the exact same article under the guise of ‘6 invisible signs you need to start recording your police encounter’, one can only imagine the cries you’d hear from the P1 crowd.

  4. lawrence kaplan

    The “signs ” are nonsense, but, in fairness to Chief Shultz, he didn’t mean literally invisible, but invisible in the sense of not being picked up on videos., but certainly visible to the “trained” eye of an officer. This is a way to counter video evidence, which, and rightfully so, has put the police on the defensive.

  5. JohnC

    #1 (Subtle Hand Movements).
    Not to be confused with cadaveric spasms or primary flaccidity, both being signs of a compliant suspect now ready to receive medical attention.

    Also, I suspect JFS was a shitty hitter.

  6. Mark Draughn

    “Conversely, an arrestee with a flair for the dramatic will yell for the sake of the crowd about how much pain they are in.”

    Or how much trouble they’re having breathing.

    “This should not distract the officer.”

    And it often doesn’t.

    1. SHG Post author

      “I meant to yell ‘stop resisting’ but was distracted by his yelling ‘I can’t breathe.'”

  7. L

    You don’t suppose cops ever make subtle hand movements, tighten their muscles, change their breathing, or yea, even whisper threats during tense encounters with “suspects”?

    Honestly, the most disturbing thing about this is the headline. I have nothing against officers advising each other on how best to read a situation in order to prepare themselves to handle it appropriately. But where it’s fully full of shit, and dangerously so, is describing all 6 as “signs that a subject is resisting a police officer.” That’s nuts. You can tell someone is resisting by all the resisting they’re doing. You don’t need “signs” that someone is resisting, unless you are dishonestly abusing the word “resisting” to mean all kinds of things it doesn’t mean in order to justify violence. A shorter way to say that, I suppose, would be to say you don’t need “signs” that someone is resisting, unless you are a police officer.

    1. SHG Post author

      Do you think you’re taking Shults a bit too literally? Perhaps this listicle has nothing to do with “signs” to the officer, and everything to do with rationalizations to be used by the officer when someone complains about an officer’s use of force where there is no visible justification?

      1. L

        Yes, that, and also giving the cops who use these rationalizations some cover to point to when they do. “See, there’s this expert with a big CV who’s saying the same things I am.”

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