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So You Want to Be a SWAT Operator?

So You Want to Be a SWAT Operator?

Jose Medina, APCLLC President/Operations Director of Education and Services

So you want to be a SWAT Officer, huh? Many individuals can put together an article about theories and research from their respective fields of training and tactical experiences. Many can also quote statements from books that have been written from many of the so called modern day warriors in years past. However, looking at today’s modern times and current threats to society, for a law enforcement officer looking to become a SWAT operator, one need not look any further than the most serious threat facing a SWAT operator today: LAWSUITS!

It’s not bad enough that the media is currently hounding the law enforcement community whether its police or corrections, the sudden “TWIST” that is put on current police related incidents totally shadows the many great things men and women in law enforcement do everyday in their jobs.

With that in mind, my point about SWAT operator candidates works this way: Many departments are developing many specialized units, i.e. SWAT, ESU, SORT, CERT, etc. Although putting that team together in today’s climate requires more than just buying a bunch of “cool gear” and shooting up some rounds. There are other educational areas in which people need to understand about specialized units.

During my tenure in specific units I worked with and still do, many in the team hated the fact the training was too “strict” or too “discipline orientated.” In my opinion those who did not meet the standards and did not at least “try” to meet the standards were advised they should not be on the team. We would get much resistance from other members as they wanted to be the “good ol boys” network and that getting rid of their friend off the team was not cool. What they did not understand was that it was not a “hate” contest but rather having the right operators for the job which was the most important thing out of anything else. If an operator could not qualify with a handgun let alone an assault long arm particularly after instructors constantly worked hard to get them up to proper level with negative results, how can we then deem them a true operator if they could not simply advance their weaponry skill levels? With that in mind, we still have teams who have people on the team to justify a number or a head count. Is this acceptable? I would think not considering the ramifications when a critical incident occurs and someone either gets seriously hurt or killed.

Many of the teams we train in our basic SWAT program or the advanced level, we always ask them why they are putting a team together or why they have joined the team. Many of the responses range from “want to advance my weaponry and skill levels” to “I want to take bad guys out of our town.” Those can some times be a good response over the current talks of “I want to blow someone’s head off” to “I just want to blow stuff up!” Make sense? Hardly.

Here are some things to consider when starting a team, becoming a member of a team and what things to be aware of if you have thought of it:

1. Did you know a large percentage of SWAT operators lack in the knowledge of SWAT case law incidents? Meaning, you have a set of team members who know nothing about critical events that occurred in a SWAT environment leading to possible law suits?

2. Did you know a large percentage of SWAT operators have no knowledge of what type of weapon they use other than the name such as M-16, M-4, Sub-Machine gun?

3. Did you know if you asked a SWAT operator what type of ammunition they use in their weapon, many of them say just 223, 45, 9mm etc? Ask them what brand and how many grain ammunition, many will give you a blank stare.

4. Ask a SWAT operator approximately the maximum effective range of certain ammunition and possible penetration capabilities; they will probably not give you a very rapid response.

My point; It is time for SWAT teams to start looking deeper into their team members and their current training protocols and begin to establish a stronger educational standard for their entire team. Remember, the courts will look at the team in this way – “A more organized controlled chaos event” over a normal patrol officer where a sudden attack leads to a sudden response by the officer, good, bad, or indifferent. But that same officer will not take the huge hit by the legal daggers if his or her training is deemed far less than that of the high end operational SWAT member. Remember, in SWAT we are held to a standard that is much higher than those in the normal patrol or any other sector in law enforcement. So when setting up a team or perhaps revamping a team, take into consideration that there are many legal areas that you must cover for the team to continue to be successful.

The courts will dig deep into finding those flaws such as officer’s character and mental stability, specific quotes stated in “fun” or simply the type of training and knowledge the operator possesses. Our training programs starting with Basic SWAT 1 to Advanced Level SWAT 2 covers the legal aspects of the team training, building of the team and philosophies. We do this not to have what many in the industry call “Warriors” but simply, “Well educated highly skilled tacticians.”

Remember, the original founding name for specialized units was and still is SWAT: Special Weapons And Tactics, not Sit Wait And Think.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    about 6 years ago

    Very good story..and true

  • Given_up_max50

    LP_FAN

    about 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    I want to be a swat officer could someone tell me what I have to do or what kind of classes I should take and by the way I'm still in 10th grade so I still have a long way to go.

  • S4020008_max50

    IRTSniper104

    about 6 years ago

    6 Comments

    I'm glad to see that someone shares my thoughts on this. This article nails it. There is alot more to being a SWAT member than putting on the fancy uniform and equipment and kicking doors!!

  • Swat_1_max50

    nayt

    about 6 years ago

    4 Comments

    im 16 years old and i want to become a SWAT officer can someone point me in the right direction to getting started?

  • Hazen630_max50

    UHPD630

    about 6 years ago

    20 Comments

    That is a great story. I never really thought of being swat, but sure is alot of liability and responsablility involved.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    lop

    about 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    is it good to train in the military then become a swat operative

  • Tn_2__max50

    bama2068

    about 6 years ago

    6 Comments

    Great information.Also you need to have the descipline in trainning for that job.

  • 813_max50

    sgt_dunning

    over 6 years ago

    236 Comments

    A MUST READ AND EVERY OPERATOR NEEDS TO READ

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 6 years ago

    Great information. Good to know!

  • 2_max50

    semperdiaz54

    over 6 years ago

    4 Comments

    I believe since being in the military, persuing such a job as SWAT you have to know your weapons systems, and weapons safety rules. Also you need to have the descipline in trainning for that job.........

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 6 years ago

    Useful information...good article.

  • Mourning_badge_max160_1__max50

    hpd350

    over 6 years ago

    314 Comments

    Great information. Who knew?

  • Picture0002_max50

    heatherchernen

    over 6 years ago

    262 Comments

    Not as comprehensive as it might have been, as TomKop pointed out, but well-written and informative! Good reading material!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    TomKop21

    over 6 years ago

    2 Comments

    Good article, but he failed mention that its great to have this knowledge about the weapons, ammo, and case aw, but when you get set to go through the front door, your training sets in and you get in a mind set, the mental, physical and tactic come into to play. You can read all the books and watch every video out there but when you hit the front door and do a raid on a drug house knowing there are several suspects that maybe armed, things change in a instant and self preservation takes over. Life and safety #1 If your not skilled for the unit mentally or physically you do not belong!

  • Beautiful_max50

    Mo4198

    over 6 years ago

    74 Comments

    Very interesting!!! I may have to try to ask a question or 2!!

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