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Old October 11, 2010, 10:57 AM   #1
kx592
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Attended county SWAT exercise

Last night I was given the option to attend a SWAT drill, "active shooter drill", after normal mall hours of course, in which i played a typical civilian "shopping" at the time of a shooting. I brought along a buddy since we both plan on becoming officers one day. I was not impressed with their tactics, I know im just an untrained eye who watches allot of shows but honestly, we were both very confused. It was a 3 floor mall, taped off parts to limit size, we were on second floor over looking 1 and 3 and could see escalators so we could watch the teams make their sweeps to evacuate us civilians out of the mall. They swept the 3rd floor first, only went 1 direction every time without clearing the other side of the open circle part. (center of mall has a open circle so all floors are visible). Then, my favorite part, They went straight down to the first floor without clearing the 2nd floor where I was. Completely exposed they went straight down to the 1st floor. I steeped out of hiding spot to see why they did that and a team on the 3rd floor put the lazer on me thinking I was a shooter so i freeze put hands up and stood still. They did not give me a single command, just sighted in on me for a good minute, So i figure a scared person would run so I did and the did not yell to stop or give me a direction to go.

So honestly guys doesn't this sound a bit off, I take it they took this seriously so I think they have some work to do. Granted a mall is such a mess of a place for this scenario to take place in, but still, they were exposing them selves every minute.
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Old October 11, 2010, 11:09 AM   #2
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This sort of quandry is apparent in the military sometimes. In order to minimize casualties, excessive caution is exercised and the primary objective is not achieved. And it is all for nothing.

I'd have to say that aggressive action will achieve more decisive results, although it goes without saying that risk is involved. But perhaps police work is different.
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Old October 11, 2010, 11:12 AM   #3
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I know nothing of SWAT/room clearing/military tactics, but I do know that if you started running they should have chased you in assumption that you are the shooter.

I would think, and again I know very little, that clearing the floors top to bottom would have been a better idea. I'm familiar with the mall setup you're talking about, and a shooter could, theoretically, be on the second floor and have an unobstructed view of the first.
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Old October 11, 2010, 01:30 PM   #4
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Hey, what Mall was this at and what County S.W.A.T team hosted it? Thank you. -Goodspeed
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Old October 11, 2010, 05:26 PM   #5
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I'm guessing you didn't have a script outlining everything they were working on. Just because what you saw through your "untrained eye" didn't meet your expectations it doesn't mean that they weren't doing something specific that you weren't briefed on.
Rather than being critical of what you're watching and not necessarily seeing the whole picture of, maybe you need to put your money where your mouth is and apply for the job. Instead of Monday morning quarterbacking, get on the field and see the world from the player's perspective.
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Old October 11, 2010, 05:53 PM   #6
mordis
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WC145, you are right but what dosent make sence to me is the fact that they kept them selvs exposed the whole time... I would think they would make better use of cover. Tho this is a active shooter excersize, i bet they where trying to simulate getting to the shooter as fast as they could. Besides you were discovered and offed by the guys on the third floor.
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Old October 11, 2010, 06:08 PM   #7
hardworker
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Pretty sure SWAT team fatalities are unheard of. Us giving them SWAT advice is like them giving us advice on debating 9mm vs 45.
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Old October 11, 2010, 06:39 PM   #8
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Without having been there to see it firsthand, its tough to AAR an event. With that discalimer, my best guess would be that each individual team member had very specific areas of responsibility and sectors of fire, and complete faith in their team mates. The team is made up of individuals, but functions as an organic element.
Ive cleared more buildings in Iraq and Afghanistan than I can count. I bang my corner, and ONLY engage targets in my assigned sector. For example, lets say Im the #1 man through the door and I choose to hook right. Theres a target at a 60* angle to my left. Not only should I not engage, I shouldn't even see it. If I see it, Im not paying attention to my sector. If I engage, I clog up the team in the 'funnel'. That target is the responsability of the #2 man, and I have to trust him to do his job.
With something like a mall, I'd assume (and we all know what happens when you do that) that the team was using a strongwall method of domination, and sweeping the building from one end to the other down the main corridors, with the men more or less on-line. Every man has an assigned sector, and there should be a little overlap.
Its very difficult to move like that as a unit, and almost impossible to be behind cover 100% of the time. Your 'cover' is knowing the man to your left and right has your back.
With the information provided, the team at least did a good job of spotting you the moment you stepped out of hiding, and didn't engage a non-hostile
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Old October 11, 2010, 07:19 PM   #9
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I think mordis has the right idea, Thinking back they were really moving just trying to locate a shooter. I still dont understand why they would not clear the 2nd floor and go exposed to the 1st instead. As to the violent post (4th i think) I know im in no position to criticize so tough but the fact that im planning on trying out in whatever county im working in so id like to understand as much as possible. Im going to ask the man who trains the team since its one of my professors, see what they were really aiming for with the drill.
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Old October 11, 2010, 07:30 PM   #10
jrothWA
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A friend retired couple years ago fromKent Cty. Sheriff reserve,

just after the Utah mall incident.

An "active shooter" response is basically, first responders form a "Wedge" and enter to engage the "AS". To minimize casualties. Also give back-ups, insidie eyes for where to not look. civvies will either be running out or holed up.

Columbine & others events showed that waiting for SWAT and setting perimeter
was TOO COSTLY!
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Old October 11, 2010, 07:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hardworker
Pretty sure SWAT team fatalities are unheard of. Us giving them SWAT advice is like them giving us advice on debating 9mm vs 45.
I lol'd pretty hard at this
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Last edited by Sefner; October 11, 2010 at 07:41 PM. Reason: messed up quote tag
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Old October 12, 2010, 09:35 PM   #12
raimius
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Perhaps they had reason to believe the shooter was not on the 2nd, or that he was on the 1st floor. If I got solid info that the lone shooter was on the first floor, I wouldn't want the SWAT team wasting time on the 2nd.

...just a thought.
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Old October 13, 2010, 10:47 PM   #13
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A general rule (as far as our team is concerned) is:
Active shooter, actively shooting- go direct to threat. Cover danger areas as much as possible, but nothing really gets cleared until the threat is eliminated.

Active shooter, no shooting- clear as normal. One danger area to the next clearing the areas as they are encountered. If the shooting starts back up, refer to above.

One single team clearing an entire mall is A LOT to ask. My jurisdiction doesn't have a "mall" in the sense of what you've described, but we do a lot work in our schools. I 500-600 student sized middle school can take between to 2-3 hours to clear properly, at a decent pace. If someone is shooting up a mall, the team is going to have to give up a fair amount of caution in order to complete the mission, and the mission comes first.

Not to say that you might not have seen sloppy work, but don't be so quick to judge either.
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Old October 13, 2010, 11:37 PM   #14
Kmar40
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Quote:
I know nothing of SWAT/room clearing/military tactics, but I do know that if you started running they should have chased you in assumption that you are the shooter.
You got the first part right.

Quote:
WC145, you are right but what dosent make sence to me is the fact that they kept them selvs exposed the whole time... I would think they would make better use of cover.
In an AS situation, you get to the threat. You either minimize the threat or at least impair the ability of the shooter(s) to move (and potentially get to additional victims).

The best cover is accurate return fire.

Swat/warrant/tac teams survive by speed and violence of action.

There isn't much cover in a mall. Concealment isn't cover.

Most untrained people think that they should be hugging the walls, which for various reasons isn't the way to do it.

You are an untrained person. There's a reason people don't pay you to respond to AS or to teach swat tactics.

Good luck in the future.
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Old October 14, 2010, 09:21 PM   #15
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Oh yeah...
I forgot to mention one of the main counter points I was going to mention.

'SWAT' as far as my team and any school I've ever been to or even heard of DOES NOT CHASE. PERIOD. What is the use of a guy wearing 50-100 pounds of gear chasing a guy wearing a jeans, t-shirt, and an AK. SWAT teams are just that, a TEAM and therefore TEAM TACTICS are utilized. There are no individuals. Chasing is for the dog if you're lucky enough to have one, or the perimeter units if it goes outdoors (unless the runner is indeed the threat, then the snipers can have him!)
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Old October 14, 2010, 09:58 PM   #16
FoxtrotRomeo
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Your 'cover' is knowing the man to your left and right has your back.
Yup, I'm not SWAT (Wanted to be once.) and I know a few military guys and have seen footage of troops in action, that's the truth right there. You don't have time to hide and it's a building you're not always gonna know where to dive off to, much less have a place worth diving into for cover anyway. It's a tunnel vision thing, if you're in the door you stick to your assignment.

As for the dude running, yes you're packin some crap on you so why run when you can radio ahead to the team ahead that the dude is headed their way and let them deal with it.
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Old October 15, 2010, 12:34 AM   #17
goodspeed(TPF)
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Quote:
Attended county SWAT exercise
Last night I was given the option to attend a SWAT drill, "active shooter drill", after normal mall hours of course, in which i played a typical civilian "shopping" at the time of a shooting. I brought along a buddy since we both plan on becoming officers one day. I was not impressed with their tactics, I know im just an untrained eye who watches allot of shows but honestly, we were both very confused. It was a 3 floor mall, taped off parts to limit size, we were on second floor over looking 1 and 3 and could see escalators so we could watch the teams make their sweeps to evacuate us civilians out of the mall. They swept the 3rd floor first, only went 1 direction every time without clearing the other side of the open circle part. (center of mall has a open circle so all floors are visible). Then, my favorite part, They went straight down to the first floor without clearing the 2nd floor where I was. Completely exposed they went straight down to the 1st floor. I steeped out of hiding spot to see why they did that and a team on the 3rd floor put the lazer on me thinking I was a shooter so i freeze put hands up and stood still. They did not give me a single command, just sighted in on me for a good minute, So i figure a scared person would run so I did and the did not yell to stop or give me a direction to go.

So honestly guys doesn't this sound a bit off, I take it they took this seriously so I think they have some work to do. Granted a mall is such a mess of a place for this scenario to take place in, but still, they were exposing them selves every minute.
Hey, what Mall was this at and what County S.W.A.T team hosted it? Thank you. -Goodspeed
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Old October 15, 2010, 07:57 PM   #18
WC145
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I think mordis has the right idea, Thinking back they were really moving just trying to locate a shooter. I still dont understand why they would not clear the 2nd floor and go exposed to the 1st instead. As to the violent post (4th i think) I know im in no position to criticize so tough but the fact that im planning on trying out in whatever county im working in so id like to understand as much as possible. Im going to ask the man who trains the team since its one of my professors, see what they were really aiming for with the drill.
I assume that I'm the author of the "violent" post. Now, I don't see any violence in what I wrote, but whatever. The truth is that beyond the fact that it was an "active shooter" drill you had no idea what they were working on and in spite of that you chose to be critical of what you saw even though you have no experience to support your opinions.
Also, regardless of the department you work for it'll probably be some time before you're clearing malls in active shooter exercises. Right now you have enough to worry about with getting hired and through the academy.

Anyway, all of that not withstanding, what did your professor have to say about what they were doing and what they were trying to accomplish?
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Old October 15, 2010, 10:02 PM   #19
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What you described is correct for an active shooter exercise, when you have an ACTIVE shooter.


Throw everything out the window from Hollywood and TV and COPS, OK?
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Old October 16, 2010, 08:28 AM   #20
kx592
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Professor canceled class this week so i wont be able to talk to him for another week. And I was not commenting off of TV bs, just common sense i suppose. Gotta learn the basics somehow ..
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Old October 19, 2010, 10:05 PM   #21
gruntrus
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Your comments are from the Television scenario point of view, whether you know it or not. "Leaving themselves exposed" is contrary to what you see on TV and in the movies, but is the action that is necessary with an active shooter.

If you cannot take such a basic observation as constructive criticism, then find another field of duty. Trust me.
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Old October 19, 2010, 10:45 PM   #22
TeamSinglestack
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So honestly guys doesn't this sound a bit off, I take it they took this seriously so I think they have some work to do.
That's why they're training.

Deliberate building clearing takes time, extensive training, and team work. A deliberate clear of a SHOPPING mall would take freaking FOREVER to do it right.

These days, most of the responders are going to simply "move to the sound of the guns" as fast as possible in order to stop the active shooter. This is a dangerous, but necessary, approach that attempts to capitalize on speed more so than security, which is better for the victims in the long run.

Regardless of what you thought of their technique, be thankful that they are training for the task to get better, and that they are willing to move to the sounds of gunfire when everybody else is running away.
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