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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.

  • Monstermile_max50


    about 3 years ago


    Fantastic Article. Exactly what command staff should be reading

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    almost 4 years ago


    This article is not only very well written and on target............... I hope that I can put into affect the" patience" portion and be able to utilize it in my everyday affairs.My line of work couldn't be compared to law enforcement.Similar though, because I sometimes have to deal with scumbags and everybody could use more patience..........That's right I sell cars !!!!!!!!!!!! And who doesn't LOVE a car salesman? (-:

  • Puppy_max50


    about 4 years ago


    always a dream to be on the swat team

  • Images_5__max50


    about 4 years ago


    Great article!

  • Fa03_max50


    about 4 years ago


    love the article , plan ,execute ,

  • Cpusey-001_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Good article.

  • N1459748587_179762_1020_max50


    about 4 years ago


    Great Article! But a team bulding exercise such as PT every now and then can't hurt and proves to be great for team building.

  • 002_max50


    about 4 years ago


    wow, hate to say it but what are you smoking there Paralegal 54 ????? Nice story but back to the real world now: great article and I agree about reassesing and constant planning

  • Photo_00002_max50


    about 4 years ago


    I like the idea of constantly reviewing, revising, updating the plan. It helps to counter-act the unfortunate tendency of highly trained, specialized units to be tactical geniouses and strategic idiots. By being so specialized and overtrained in certain operational proceedures and tactics, they become complacent and don't bother to exercise some creative thinking. All in all -Excellant article. LTC Thomas FX Nugent

  • Iraqcampaignmedal-ribbon_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Paralegal54. I don't know what you have been watching on tv or reading in the media but we don't get dressed on the front lawn of the house we are fixing to hit. As a SWAT officer of more than 12 years, when we pull up in front of your house, our blue lights are not on, we are fully dressed and you're not going to know we are there until your front door caves in. As far as "SWAT almost got the right house" comment, we don't pick where we make entries. We are told where to go to make the entry. That one is not our choice or decision. You obviously have no idea how we operate or even what our job entails. And finally, NO, SWAT doesn't ask questions. Our job is to make entry and secure the scene and everyone in it. Once that is done, the narcs or investigators can ask the questions. Remember, knowledge is power.

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago


    paralegal54 wake up and turn the swat movies off. Its time to come back to earth

  • Photo_user_blank_big


    over 4 years ago

    Good article........

  • 1287065658575_max50


    over 4 years ago


    Great article, thank you.

  • In_remembrance_of_oakland_pd_max50_max50_max50_max50_max50


    over 4 years ago


    A well written article with lots of good advice.

  • Swat_teaser_fin_sm001_max50


    over 4 years ago


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

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