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Standards and Conformity Assessment for Criminal Justice Restraints

Restraints are critical pieces of equipment carried by law enforcement, corrections, and court officers. To help ensure that restraints meet minimal requirements, the National Institute of Justice published NIJ Standard 1001.00, Criminal Justice Restraints (pdf, 66 pages) in 2014 and Revision A in 2019 (pdf, 62 pages).[1]

Standard 1001.00 specifies the minimum requirements for form and fit, performance, testing, documentation, and labeling of restraints intended to be used by criminal justice personnel to restrain subjects. It categorizes restraints into four types based on the intended operational use.

Certifying Restraints to the Standard — A Public-Private Approach

NIJ maintained a conformance testing program for metallic handcuffs from the 1980s until 2016, when we discontinued the metallic handcuffs Conformity Testing Program and closed the program to new submissions.[2]

Rather than continuing to operate its own program, NIJ determined that it could better meet the needs of the criminal justice community by publicly recognizing restraints certification programs in the private sector. To do so, though, NIJ needed to develop criteria by which it would recognize such programs.

NIJ sought public comment on proposed minimum requirements that a product certification “scheme” must contain for the certification of restraints described in NIJ Standard 1001.00.[3] This would provide clear guidance on what NIJ suggests would be the minimum level of quality assurance needed to provide a high degree of confidence for the end user community.

The resulting document, Minimum Scheme Requirements to Certify Criminal Justice Restraints Described in NIJ Standard 1001.00 (pdf, 8 pages), was published in July 2017.[4] It includes minimum reasonable expectations that a “certification body” (i.e., the organization providing third-party product certification) should meet in order to operate a certification program for restraints. It is also intended for “accreditation bodies” that accredit certification bodies which certify restraints, or may be considering doing so.

Restraints certification programs that meet or exceed the minimum requirements allow NIJ a basis by which to publicly recognize these external programs. (See NIJ-Recognized Certification Programs below.)

Some important points about the new approach:

  • NIJ no longer certifies handcuffs to NIJ Standard 0307.01, nor has it ever certified restraints to NIJ Standard 1001.00.
  • Restraints are certified by the NIJ-recognized private sector organizations. They are not certified by NIJ, and the products should not be referred to as “NIJ certified.”
  • This process will not generate a list of NIJ-certified restraints. However, it does demonstrate to the criminal justice community that NIJ has confidence in the private-sector organization certifying the restraints and publishing lists of certified products.
  • For agencies wishing to purchase or procure restraints certified to meet NIJ Standard 1001.00, NIJ suggests the following procurement language:
    • “Restraints tested in accordance with NIJ Standard 1001.00 and certified by a certification body recognized by the National Institute of Justice.”
  • In setting the minimum requirements for a certification scheme, NIJ is not the scheme owner. Instead, NIJ takes a curatorial oversight role by—
    • Articulating the minimum requirements for a program to meet the quality assurance needs for end users of criminal restraints.
    • Assessing programs based on those requirements.
    • Recognizing programs, including lists of products conformant with NIJ Standard 1001.00, based on those assessments.

Restraints Certification Programs Recognized by NIJ

NIJ recognizes the following certification program for restraints as in compliance with Minimum Scheme Requirements to Certify Criminal Justice Restraints Described in NIJ Standard 1001.00:[5]

Safety Equipment Institute, Inc.
1307 Dolley Madison Boulevard
Suite 3A
McLean, VA 22101
Telephone: (703) 442-5732
Fax: (703) 442-5756
Email: [email protected]

History of Compliance Testing of Restraints at NIJ

NIJ’s compliance testing program for restraints began with a test report published in May 1982 after several models were tested (pdf, 23 pages) against the then-new NIJ Standard 0307.01. A second report[6] followed in February 1986, which resulted in an updated “Consumer Product List” (CPL). Subsequent efforts evolved into the metallic handcuffs Compliance Testing Program, which was administered by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center. Models tested through the Compliance Testing Program that were found to comply with all the requirements of the standard were then listed on the metallic handcuffs CPL.

Manufacturers seeking NIJ recognition of compliance to NIJ Standard 0307.01 for their models of metallic handcuffs submitted a sample of the model to the Compliance Testing Program, where the user information, markings, and workmanship are inspected to ensure compliance with the NIJ standard. To meet the requirements of the standard, a sample of five handcuffs was tested at one of two NIJ-approved laboratories. For a model to fully comply with the standard, four of the five pairs of handcuffs had to meet all of the requirements.

The metallic handcuffs CPL has remained published while NIJ has been transitioning certification of restraints and handcuffs from an NIJ-operated program to recognition of private-sector programs. Criminal justice agencies may still request this CPL until December 31, 2018. Please send an email from an agency email address to Mark Greene at [email protected] to request this information.

Date Published: July 2, 2018