MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Marines from the station Provost Marshal’s Office held their annual Monadnock expandable baton certification on the air station Aug. 9.
Lance Cpl. Nathan Vijil, PMO patrolman, took a swing with his Monadnock expandable baton at Staff Sgt. Steven Young, PMO watch commander. He caught the staff sergeant with a hard blow to the thigh, brought him down and then put him in handcuffs.
As brutal as it may sound, Vijil, a Tarrant, Texas, native, and Young, along with 27 other military police officers, were certified for a tool very crucial to their job.
“The significance of this training is the basic fundamentals a police officer needs to know, like weapons retention and basic maneuvers,” said Cpl. Ryan Kretz, PMO patrolman from Detroit. “We need to make sure we stay up on our training with tools for self defense and apprehension."
This weapon is one of many that MPs here train with, and like the rest, the Monadnock has its own unique purpose, said Staff Sgt. Timothy Hall, PMO training staff noncommissioned officer and Monadnock defensive tactics instructor from Oshkosh, Wis.
“The basic philosophy for the Monadnock is to protect and restrain,” Hall said.
The MPs spent the morning practicing the methods of protect and restrain among each other with baton and handcuffing techniques while using their expandable batons, rubber batons and practice pads. After training, the Marines participated in a round robin competition to apply the baton and handcuff techniques. They prepared for this by practicing once a week for the past five weeks.
To help the certifying Marines apply both offensive and defensive baton techniques at full force, Young, a San Mateo, Calif., native, challenged the Marines in fully padded law enforcement training gear.
“The suit is padded so the (military police) have an actual target to practice their techniques on," said Hall.
Even though the baton may seem like a blunt beating object, it requires more skill than some may imagine, said Lance Cpl. Brandon Fletcher, PMO patrolman and accident investigator from Alvin, Texas. The training helps the MPs to know where to properly hit designated areas of the body, which are referred to with color codes.
"There are certain zones we are allowed to hit,” explained Fletcher. “The red areas signify deadly force, which are no-hit zones such as your head and your spine. The yellow areas are your joints and the groin area, which are less than lethal but you still avoid hitting. Green areas are the target zones, which is any meaty portion of the body. We are trained on hitting the non-lethal areas."
The certification they receive from training also helps ensure appropriate use of the batons without mishandling their force and to know their priorities in any situation.
"It’s to keep the MPs familiar with other less-than-lethal types of force, so their only option isn't to (use hand-to-hand combat or a fire arm). They have other tools to use," Hall said.
"They need to first protect themselves, protect other people and then restrain individuals that inflict harm to others," he added.
Like many weapons MPs are certified with, the Monadnock is a tool that has proven itself successfully in many situations, said Hall.
"A couple years ago, a visiting Marine got drunk and disorderly and wanted to make an altercation,” Hall recalled. “I performed a block and a strike, which brought the suspect down."
Many times, other weapons are not suitable in certain situations. When MPs must apprehend someone, a pistol could be too much force, risking the suspect’s life, and hand-to-hand combat might be too little, risking the MP’s life. MPs are trained with the baton so when they experience situations like that, they can use it without posing a risk to themselves or to the suspect, said Kretz.
"It gives us a bigger force continuum,” said Kretz. “If we didn't have (batons), we wouldn't have steps to take. If we had just ourselves and our gun (for self-defense), with no baton, there is more risk to us and to the person we're apprehending