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SWAT—Not Sit, Wait, and Talk

SWAT—Not Sit, Wait, and Talk

Jeffrey J. Denning / SWAT Digest

“Hurry up and wait” is one sure thing that can be counted on in almost every tactical operation. Knowing when to wait and how to best utilize that time will help secure success and, most importantly, keep team members and the innocent safe. Aside from that, there are a few things every operator would like his administration to know… (Don’t worry; I’ll keep it clean.)

Fighting the Urge to Rush

Admit it: breaking down doors, “runnin’ and gunnin’ ”, “flowing and going” is fun. Busting into a room after throwing in a few flash bangs (a.k.a. noise flash distraction devices, NFDDs) and hollering “POLICE, Don’t Move!” while pointing a subgun or tricked out long gun at some unsuspecting felon is a rush. Nothing compares to it. Some might even say it’s better than sex.

Most tac guys (and gals) are adrenaline-junkies. At a younger age I too exhibited some of those characteristics. I went free-fall skydiving in high school, messed up my knee on a much-too-high cliff jump at Lake Powell, free climbed (without ropes) up 90 foot rock faces, and jumped like a “stunt man” head first off a three-story building onto crudely made padding. I even trained for a short season with members of the U.S. ski jumping and aerial freestyle ski teams. It’s amazing I didn’t get hurt more than I did.

One of the things I really enjoyed was backcountry skiing. We’d find huge cliffs to ski off. We tried to avoid hitting the trees in the air and land in the soft powder. Years later I remember reading about a man who tried to break the world’s record for the longest cliff jump on skis. He miscalculated his jump and hit another cliff plummeting several hundred meters to his death. Had he taken more time to calculate his jump, he might have set the record—and lived.

I realize that doesn’t have anything to do with police work or tactical operations, but I learned a valuable lesson from reading about that experience. It taught me an important lesson: it’s better to be a calculated risk-taker than just a risk-taker.

Now I run away from trouble. I avoid risk. My body doesn’t recover as quickly as it used to. I don’t want to get hurt.

One of the things I like about SWAT is that there is nearly always a way to improve the plan and increase the changes for officer safety. SWAT officers have the element of surprise. Time is on SWAT’s side. Rarely are tactical teams forced to walk into a trap. The danger comes from rushing in.

Larry Glick, the former executive director of the National Tactical Officers Association and the founder of the International Tactical Officers Training Association (ITOTA), taught me the value of patience in order to lower risk and ensure success. He suggested that we should consider every available tactical option before breaking down a door. If it’s a barricaded situation, for instance, there’s no rush to go in. Wait. Use gas, a ruse, or something else to flush the suspect out. Use a robot or your SWAT monkey—“tactical primate”—in the case of Mesa, Arizona PD. Rip down a wall and wait. Open up the door and stay outside. “Break and rake” the windows and wait! Resist your urge to rush in and lower your risk. Once inside a building the level of risk raises exponentially. Hold off and be safe.

  • Swat_teaser_fin_sm001_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Good article.. dont really know why paralegal54 mentioned that confusing story buuuuuuut....ok!

  • Photo_user_banned_big


    about 5 years ago


    good article will use some of the advise we need more tatical trainning info out there to help work togather as team

  • Jeso_max50


    over 5 years ago


    PETE114 and madog87--I'm with you both, wtf? I don't even know what I just read, it doesn't make sense.

    Great article.

  • Suz_suit_pic_blk___white_max50


    over 5 years ago


    The really like this article - Excellent advise

  • P3_max50


    over 5 years ago


    pete114 lol im with ya man ?? Great article

  • Jpd_new_max50


    over 5 years ago


    What are you talking about?

  • 20130324_182454_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Most excellent...Good Job

  • Cpusey-001_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Very well done!!

  • Est_training_with_kansas_city_metro_037_max50


    over 5 years ago


    Nicely done.

  • Lion_cub__masai_mara__kenya_max50


    over 5 years ago


    great advice.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 5 years ago


    I moved to a home that I thought with my 4 children that would be safe since so many officers lived in the same neighborhood. One evening after work I was talking to a coworker about a project we had to complete at work. I looked out the window and said to my coworker wow there are a lot of police out in the neighborhood tonight (before dusk) after a while still looking out the window I noticed that the cars were parked in formation (a semi circle) in front of my house. They were opening the trunks of their cars and suiting up with bullet proof vest etc. slowly it was dawning on me they plan to come in here! I am not the scary type but I dont commit crimes. okay i dont always yield at yellow lights. my co worker said that sounds like SWAT. Fear and I got really close fast. I didnt know what to do. I couldnt call the police they were out front. my coworker said dont open the door or they may shoot you. Fear and I wrapped ourselves around one another and I hid my children in closets. just in case they just started shooting. When i moved in the front yard had been destroyed with cars parking in front and no grass etc. I had redone the lawn and planted flower beds etc. I waited so scared because I was told SWAT doesnt ask questions. you just go to jail. guilty until proven innocent. I thank God that because they took the time to assess the situation and did not come in or even to the door. As they were packing up and leaving I opened the door okay that may not have been a bright idea but I did it. And asked what was going on several ignored me but one finally asked me how long had I lived there a month i said. He told me it was a good idea that I had taken steps to improve the property because the people that lived there before me were trafficking drugs. I didnt know who lived there before I just moved to town. The hurry up and wait was my saving grace. I found out that the people they were looking for lived next door. According to neighbors. So SWAT was almost right. Those same people broke into my house the following week. made themselves a tuna salad sit down and ate it then took all the meat out the freezer, new school clothes for my children and assorted clothing of mine. I moved the next day!

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