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Old February 16, 2008, 12:20 PM   #1
pfch1977
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The Quick and the Dead

I see many SWAT teams using different tactics in reference to armor and shields. The NYPD appears loaded down with shields and various armor almost as if they were some type of mythical warriors.

Where as the LAPD doesnt use shields and emphasizes shooting skills. Military SWAT teams usually have their lead elements heavily armored.

When I was in the military, I was told that there are only two types of soldiers "The Quick" and "The Dead". Studies at that time showed that a soldier was not tactically effective with more then 45 pounds of gear.

Who is more effective? A heavily armored tactical operator or one who has less armor and can be more agile?
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Old February 16, 2008, 01:20 PM   #2
David Armstrong
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I'm not sure where you are getting your info. LAPD does use shields and armor. NYPD does emphasize shooting skills. In fact, major agency SWAT teams are very similar in many aspects.

Quote:
When I was in the military, I was told that there are only two types of soldiers "The Quick" and "The Dead". Studies at that time showed that a soldier was not tactically effective with more then 45 pounds of gear.
Cops are not soldiers, and have a different mission and role. Depending on that role or mission the equipment to be "tactically effective" (not sure what that really means as opposed to just being "effective") can and does change.
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Old February 16, 2008, 07:50 PM   #3
Erik
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Shields typically come out on perimeter (as necessary) and when lengthy "hall bossing" is anticipated (again an "as necessary" event). Mileage varies with the tactics adopted by the users, with some preferring them. Often times they are brought and left in a convenient location in the event they are needed.

But at 15-20 lbs available cover, body armor, and multiple muzzles are often the first choice for providing "relative safety."
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Old February 16, 2008, 07:54 PM   #4
tplumeri
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a soldier was not tactically effective with more then 45 pounds of gear.
Beg to differ. I think if you check the wts we carried for special ops you would find it to be alot more.
I think we were pretty damn effective!
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Old February 16, 2008, 09:40 PM   #5
pfch1977
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The following information is widely available in back issues of any SWAT type magazine or even by searching Google so I am not giving away any state secrets or information that might harm a police officer.

Basically, there are two styles of SWAT tactics. East coast (NYPD ESU) and West coast (LAPD SWAT).

East coast SWAT revolves around the ballastic shield and their units religously train with their shields. These East coast units usually wear a lot of heavy armor with groin projectors, shoulder protectors, etc. These are the modern day Spartans. These teams are usually slow and not so dynamic. There is more of a centralized command and control.

West coast SWAT revolves around more of a military thinking. Have you ever see any soldiers or Marines fight on the battlefield with a ballasstic shield? Nope. These west coast teams use their weapons for cover. West coast units are structured in the same way as an Infantry platoon is structured. In an Infantry platoon. I.E. A platoon is seperated into 3-4 squads of 10 men and then each squad is broken up into 2 fine teams. Each team is lead by Sgt. Each squad is lead by a SSgt. Less centralized leadership when compared to east coast. West coast units usually do not wear as much armor or even helmets favoring to be lighter and faster just as special forces units are in the military. The LAPD SWAT just wears a simple bulletproof tactical jacket without a groin, armpit or shoulder protectors.

If you have ever lead a platoon of soldiers in an Infantry company, then you would know that the manual states that your fighting load should never be more then 30% of your body weight. Your combat load should never exceed 45% of your body weight. Back in the day, soldiers were a little bit lighter and more in shape then they are now. The recommended load back then was about 45 pounds when fighting.

Whats going on in Iraq right now and the past few years has been a media event...politicians exagerate the need and use of body armor. During the American Civil War, there was body armor available. During World War I, there was body armor available. In fact, there was body armor available during every war. However, the armor available then was found to be too cumbersome and slowed down the soldier. The armor available during World War I weighed about 40 lbs and was found to be impractical. Amazingly enough today's soldier's armor weighs about 40 lbs and is found to be very practical. Hmmmmm...

During the jump into Panama, soldiers carried over 100 lbs of load and what was seen during that jump was comical. You had young athletic soldiers moving like human turtles. Its lucky that the fighting was not too fierce on those days.

My experience is that the intelligence of leadership declines with every lb an operator has to carry.

Sorry if I went off on a tangent, but there is a lot to write about body armor.

My opinion favors west coast tactics where minimal armor and shielding is used. Instead, the weapon is used to shield the operator vs. a large tactical shield which makes for a larger (slower) target.

Here is an interesting article on combat load by the way...

http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...t/1985/IDC.htm

Last edited by pfch1977; February 16, 2008 at 10:11 PM.
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Old February 17, 2008, 12:05 AM   #6
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I have a few friends who have trained with both NYPD and PAPD SWAT (ESU)
It seems that they have reached the conclusion that for police entry the use of shields is mandatory.
Anything else, any other type of room entry against someone who is out to kill--as opposed to hide--is suicide.
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Old February 17, 2008, 08:46 AM   #7
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I have seen LAPD SWAT work a number of times. I can also see where the NYPD's tactics could be useful. Every situation is different and there is a need for both methods. One situation might call for a shield but another speed and flexability of the entry team would be best.

There are so many ways to skin a cat. I can remember one incident where a lone Mexican had robbed a store and was barricaded inside. The store was surrounded and he didn't have a hostage or any chance of escape. Time was not a big factor and the waiting started. We also had to consider the Macho factor. He didn't want to go down without a fight. Communication was established and the suspect requested something to eat. A pizza was delivered along with a 12 pack of beer. In about two hours the suspect was asleep and the entry team gathered him up without a shot being fired.
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Old February 17, 2008, 10:59 AM   #8
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Shields are specialized entry equipment (like assault ladders and armored vehicles) which have greatest utility at pre-planned breach points. We use them mainly as cover against blast overpressure and shrapnel during explosive breaching.

The idea of running around carrying a Level IV shield for 360 degree contingency use is a non-starter (at least against multiple heavily armed opponents). You are already jocked-up with as much armor on your body as is feasible. The shield is just to get through a particular fatal funnel or obstacle.

Domestic police SWAT assaults and Military DA raids in urban Iraq are similar only up to a point...that point being anticipated/encountered resistance. The military assault is typically going to be more of an active-shooter type response using dynamic rather than deliberate tactics. We both want to get someone out alive/detained (for different purposes)...the difference is that upon meeting resistance, I can kill anyone present and destroy the structure if need be.

LEO SWAT must operate under a much more restrictive ROE, but can also (usually) initiate a more deliberate assault at a time of their choosing. Use of shields may be exactly appropriate for a given barricade situation.

Re: Armored Infantry/Police and the Soldier's Combat Load...

Wearing body armor has always been a balancing act...protection offered vs. anticipated casualty mechanism vs. loss of mobility/endurance.

The same armor/gun/mobility equation which drives tank evolution.

A war today is likely to be effectively lost due to public outcry over casualties. Thus, ballistic protection becomes paramount to leaders and, conveniently, current materials technology is keeping up with the problem (just barely). Today our primary threats are blast, shrapnel, and bullets. We have gradually transitioned from 1980's light infantry to 2008 armored heavy infantry (just like many ancient armies). That equation will change when the weapons change. For now, the push is for lighter and more effective armor. The stuff I wear (which will stop rifle fire) weighs about 27 lbs (weight of the armor and carrier). Near term, armor will get lighter...but AKs won't get more effective.

Today's Soldier carries about the same amount of crap (as a percentage of body weight) that his Roman Legion, British Red Coat, US Civil War, or WWII predecessor carried. But, todays soldier is also (on average) bigger and stronger allowing for a slight increase in carry weight.

"Back in the day, soldiers were a little bit lighter and more in shape then they are now."

"During the jump into Panama...what was seen during that jump was comical. You had young athletic soldiers moving like human turtles. Its lucky that the fighting was not too fierce on those days."

"If you have ever lead a platoon of soldiers in an Infantry company..."


Speaking from personal experience there are ya?
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Old February 17, 2008, 11:25 AM   #9
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Friends retired NorCal SWAT. Never had to use his .308.
Says something. Still, he CAN shoot.
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Old February 17, 2008, 05:51 PM   #10
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Quote:
Who is more effective? A heavily armored tactical operator or one who has less armor and can be more agile?
Who is safer? Rule #1: go home at the end of your shift.
Body armor is great, but it has great limitations. Too long down your belly and close to your throat, and it will strangle you as you sit in the car on the way to a search. Arm holes have to be big enough to allow you to move into a shooting stance. Some body armor has gaps in it where the panels meet or other limited coverage, and none have coverage for your head, femoral artery, lower intestinal tract, pelvis etc. The shield is much better for going through doors, down hallways, and covering prior to breaching. Commonly used Level IIIA shields are relatively light, and are a great comfort to the rank and file on drug searches, where speed is a big factor. SWAT of course has the shields that will stop rifle rounds.

Agility really has nothing to do with effectiveness, unless you are convinced the best man really wins. Most law enforcement officers who get shot are the victims of chance, as the bad guys blaze away and the bullets go where they go. It is well known that while we have to be good, they just have to be lucky.
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Old February 17, 2008, 06:34 PM   #11
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I think its a mix and match thing. The SWAT officer has to be agile enough to do his job effectively, but safe enough to complete the mission he's been assigned to do. And so that he can come home to Mrs. SWAT.

In a regular hostage situation most of the hostage takers are using 9 Millimetre weapons. Pistols and Sub-Machine guns. Very rarely do they carry high calibre assault rifles. In a hostage situation, where the use of SWAT first came into play, light weight armour would work well.

In the case of Mr.Lone Gunman he will probably have much more powerful weapons than the standard hostage takers. After killing a bunch of people and heading down the highway he's being pursued by SWAT, he stops his car and gets out.

Now if the SWAT have tactical shields they'll be able to defend themselves from the gail of bullets heading in their direction. It might take longer to eliminate Mr.Lone Gunman but at least they did it safely.

Another issue I have to raise is intelligence. The SWAT unit has to have good inteligence about the threat so that they dont make the mistake of sending their officers in blind. This could also be used by regular cops but I wont go there. What I mean is they dont go into a situation in bulky armour when theres just a cretin with a nine millimetre pistol shooting randomly.

Or they dont take bulky armour like tactical shields into a place where I guy is showing off his new AK to unfortunate members of the public.

Alot of SWAT units now get to locations where there help is needed by means of a van with a hell of a load of armour carried within. This means SWAT units can choose what armour they need for the situation they find themselves in.
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Old February 18, 2008, 05:13 AM   #12
pfch1977
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The west coast SWAT uses their weapons as shields. This means they use fire as cover. For example, they bust into a room and when they see a threat they fire their weapons. Thus, they dont need a shield because they are focused on eliminating the threat or making the threat dive for cover. This is a military philosophy. Eliminate the threat through fire or make the threat retreat/dive for cover/surrender through fire.

The east coast style is to armor up and hide behind barriers. While this seems like the smart way to do business, they are not focused on eliminating the threat and/or making the threat retreat/dive for cover/surrender.

My opinion is that most forced entry scenarios can be avoided and SWAT is simply overused. There was an incident in Texas where a public official had messaged an underage woman over the internet. They had their SWAT team bust into this man's house where he then turned a gun on himself and committed suicide.

Why did SWAT have to be used in that scenario? Obviously it was used in order to make a big pubic display against a seemingly heinous crime. However, this resulted in a death. They could have simply met him at his workplace where he could have been taken into custody without incident.

Forced entry should probably used in hostage situations or where evidence might be destroyed. All other situations can be handled in a different manner. Why isnt tear gas used anymore? When I was in the military, it was impossible to stand in a room full of tear gas for long. I found myself running for the door when I found myself dry land drowning on the gas. Not a good feeling, but very effective to get someone out of a house.
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Old February 18, 2008, 06:58 AM   #13
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pfch,
Sometimes while watching the T V shows where crime and tactics are involved, I wonder about the methods used by Law Enforcement. When I was a LEO, I always wanted to do it the easy way.

I have watched a number of shows, FBI in particular, where they have focused on a suspect and had conducted interviewes a number of times. The Subject came to the office a number of times for interviewes voluntarily. When the time comes to make the arrest they pick a public place and take him down with an overpowering bunch of cops in SWAT outfits with guns drawn. I would have memely had the suspect come to the office for another routine interview and made the arest on my turf where I knew he would be unarmed.

Tear Gas is still used as far as I know. The words to describe the sequence of what happens on the LAPD in this type of situation was, "Time, Talk and Tear gas.
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Old February 18, 2008, 09:11 AM   #14
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Quote:
The west coast SWAT uses their weapons as shields. This means they use fire as cover. For example, they bust into a room and when they see a threat they fire their weapons
Sorry, this "fire as cover" nonsense may sound good, but it's bogus. SWAT teams may use ballistic entries without shields for various purposes, but they know darn well their "fire" is not cover. They also know they cannot fire outside of a very restrictive shoot policy, so grazing fire or any of that other military stuff is a big no-no. No matter how hard they blast into a residence, there will be some noise and some delay in breaching doors, even hollow-core interior doors. During that delay, a bad guy can start blasting through the walls, door, etc., and residential structures give no cover, as bullets blast through sheet rock like it wasn't there. This is precisely why the shields were invented.

Quote:
This is a military philosophy. Eliminate the threat through fire or make the threat retreat/dive for cover/surrender through fire
The military clears through fire, like tossing a grenade in, or shooting through walls. Big difference between that and domestic law enforcement. The military is allowed collateral damage.
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Old February 18, 2008, 09:32 AM   #15
matthew temkin
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The fact that two LAPD SWAT guys were recently shot upon making an entry--one of whom was killed--shows just how dangerous this job is.
The NYPD does not hide behind their shields.
I just had two friends come back from this training and they tell me the shields are lighter now and are used in a fast and flowing manner.
In fact much of the training is based on the Ken Good approach.
Back in 1988 Larry Davis shot his way through a 24 man stack, killing one and wounding several, which kind of shook up the NYC law enforcement community.
Room entry is dangerous work and, without adequate cover, can be a recipe for disastor.
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Old February 18, 2008, 09:39 AM   #16
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Anyone have the stats for the NYPD, as in how many of their SWAT officers have lost their lives during entries?

The LAPD SWAT was the first-ever, and was formed in 1967. There has only been ONE LAPD SWAT officer killed during an entry, and that was the recent incident in the Winnetka area of L.A. City (Officer Randy Simmons was killed).
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Old February 18, 2008, 10:09 AM   #17
David Armstrong
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Quote:
The west coast SWAT uses their weapons as shields. This means they use fire as cover. For example, they bust into a room and when they see a threat they fire their weapons.
Quote:
Basically, there are two styles of SWAT tactics. East coast (NYPD ESU) and West coast (LAPD SWAT).
You might want to do some pretty heavy fact checking there. LE does not use fire as cover, SWAT or no SWAT. And there is so much cross-training in the game that the tactics are pretty much universal. Different tactics for different situations, but the tactics used are not determined by your location.
Quote:
There was an incident in Texas where a public official had messaged an underage woman over the internet. They had their SWAT team bust into this man's house where he then turned a gun on himself and committed suicide.
Again, you need to check your facts. The official has engaged in numerous illegal acts over the internet, refused to exit his house when ordered to do so, and shot himself before SWAT entered. Lots of details to this sort of stuff that you seem to be missing or ignoring.

Quote:
The LAPD SWAT was the first-ever, and was formed in 1967.
FWIW, LAPD coined the term SWAT, but they weren't the first by far. NYPD's ESU goes back to the 1930, IIRC, and several other places had specialized squads that did SWAT-type work before LAPD.
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Old February 18, 2008, 10:43 AM   #18
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As David Armstrong said, they do not fire as cover. You seem to be misapplying the word "cover" to mean threat neutralization. Cover stops inbound rounds. Threat neutralization stops the person from being able to make rounds inbound.

Quote:
For example, they bust into a room and when they see a threat they fire their weapons. Thus, they dont need a shield because they are focused on eliminating the threat or making the threat dive for cover.
I don't see how this differs from any other SWAT group in the US. I don't know of any group that bursts into a room, sees a threat, and then hunkers down behind cover and just lets the threat blaze away at them. Additionally, they don't necessarily just fire their weapons on seeing a threat. Often times, there are one or more verbal commands given before they open fire.
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