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SWAT—Not Sit, Wait, and Talk

SWAT—Not Sit, Wait, and Talk

Jeffrey J. Denning / SWAT Digest

Although the physiological changes from an initial adrenaline dump may occur and we may be ready to “rock ‘n’ roll”, we should fight the urge to rush in until we are confident that we have the tactical advantage.

On Hold, Standing By

Talk about frustrating. You’re amped, psyched or stoked—depending on what part of the country you’re from—either way, you’re ready to charge in like a Mac truck and do some damage, if needed, and the situation or the boss says “hold on”. Now what?


Okay, that might not be the first thing you should do, but it’s something that should be more on the minds of operators.

In July 1999 I trained with representatives from nearly every SWAT team that responded to the Columbine High School shootings just three months before. I don’t recall if it was a Jefferson County Sheriff’s deputy or a police officer from Littleton, Colorado who said that before he went inside the school he saw an officer sitting on the sidewalk finishing off a hamburger and a drink. Even though Columbine changed the way officers would respond to active shooting situations forever, the actions of that SWAT officer that day were praised as brilliant. It was a long day. It would eventually take four and a half hours just to clear the inside of the school!

Don’t forget to fuel up. Although we won’t take time to eat in an active shooter situation, there are plenty of other operations that will demand lots of time and energy. Combat operations fatigue the body. Don’t get overly focused or too “tough” to give your body what it demands. You’re performance will deteriorate in all aspects should you neglect this important necessity. And, as we’ve heard, “eat when you can, not when you have to.” If you wait, you might not get the chance.

During down time continuously improve upon the plan. This is a given, but many teams still need serious help in this area. Why? because we’re all creatures of habit. We get comfortable over time. Our successes outweigh our failures. We think we’ve always done it that way and it’s worked so far.

Warning! Routine kills.

Welcome outside thinking. Challenge old systems and ways of doing things. Bad guys watch, study and learn. Potential threats and serious cop killers have access to tactical training. They pay attention to the way things are done. In one sense, they’re not as stupid as they act. As we live to stop them, they study on how to defeat us.

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