View Full Version : Rapid Deployment Training for Patrol Officers

May 12, 2002, 05:05 PM
This article, authored by Ethan Jensen, appeared in the June 2002 issue and I think it was pretty darn good.

Last year I attended a public "feel good" drill presented by the local PD at our high school. The scenario included a report of shots fired, etc. When the responding officers rolled up they found the school security office lying in the foyer, playing dead. They retrieved the DB, and with the help of 40 other officers from around the county set up a security perimeter. Then the PD armored truck drove up and the hostage negotiator got the BG to surrender.

Never did they enter the school to try and stop the actions of the BG.

I don't think the responding officers knew their way around the school....only the gym, cafeteria, and principal's office. The security officer certainly couldn't help them.

This drill didn't make me feel good.

Be that as it may, I think Jensen's article is very timely.

May 13, 2002, 08:27 AM
Do you have a link to the article?

I teach a similar system to the agencies in my county. We have made the decision that we will not wait for our emergency response team (30 to 40 minutes from call to arrival) when someone is in one of our schools shooting our kids.

We train in four components. The first three are for patrol officers. 1. Classroom presentation on the program, decision making, etc. 2. Exercises in the school buildings themselves with role-play hostages. 3. Live fire exercises at the range using the techniques taught. We start with a single officer and eventually work our way to a four man entry with numerous shoot / don't shoot scenarios, and multiple victim/hostage targets interspersed with the BG's.

The fourth phase of training is for dispatchers, medics, firefighters, school teachers and administrators, street department employees, and other area departments.

We have adopted a model that will form an ad-hoc tactical team with the first responding patrol officers to go in and confront the suspect to force a resolution to the incident. Hopefully the BG will surrender, but if he wants a fight, we will. And he will lose. In any event, we don't take kindly to people shooting our kids, so we put a stop to it as soon as possible. Once that threat has been addressed we search for and treat victims.

We have put together a deployment plan for each school in the city that is quite thorough and train on those plans annually.

This description is very simplified, but this is the basic idea. Other agencies around the country are adopting similar measures to "active shooter" incidents. The old "contain and negotiate" model just does not work in this scenario unless or until you can get the person isolated.

I would be interested to see what SWAT magazine has to say about this movement in tactics and training.

Rich Lucibella
May 13, 2002, 10:12 AM
Thanks for the kind words, Fraser.

The June issue is still available on the stands...check your local book sellers or magazine stands. A synopsis of June is available at http://swatmagazine.com/current.htm

May 17, 2002, 12:42 PM

I hope you voiced your disgust to what is tantamount to a policy that can only be classified as either "mindless" or "cowardly".

Rich Lucibella
May 17, 2002, 12:59 PM
Actually, it's neither of the above. Picture this: you're a cop on patrol. Call comes in; "Shots fired at local school"...your daughter's school. You arrive on the scene and there's a hostage situation in progress.

Here's your choices:
1) Charge into a large, open building where every hostage looks exactly like every perp. They're running and screaming, many coming straight at you...for protection? To attack? You're getting reports of shots fired at the north end, in the cafeteria, on the east side; Kids are down in need of immediate medical attention. You can't hear anything on the radio with the noise. 60 seconds down and you've covered every bit of 700 sq ft of a 700,000 sq foot building....gonna be a real long day.

2) You establish a (1 man) perimeter, gather as much intel from those exiting as possible and wait for backup/command/communications.

Guess what the results will be? Unknown, except in your case. No matter what you do, we can be fairly certain that you'll be crucified in the after action reports....by your superiors, the parents, the media. Maybe even your colleagues. That's what you're facing in that moment of decision. It's not like a battlefield, where there is such a thing as "acceptable losses".

My own feeling...make it policy that first one on the scene goes in...NOW. 'Course, that's easy for me....the blood of my neighbors' children won't be on my hands (or yours). Besides, no two scenarios present the exact same.

The point is that it's real tough to create a firm "rule" or "policy" in these cases. Either action can result in massacre. No one has a pat "answer", but I'm sure glad the local gendarmes are at least wrestling with the appropriate questions.


Don Gwinn
May 17, 2002, 02:03 PM
I know the local PD's have trained with the county in our building, because one day they chased us all out at 4:00 and warned us in ominous terms not to show our faces until the next morning. I don't know what the training was, though; it may only have involvd a specialized tactical team.

May 19, 2002, 05:41 AM
You've hit it right on the head, Rich. If the officers follow the training they have received for the past 30 years to contain and negotiate utilizing a tactical team they are called cowards and someone sues their butt off. If they go in to put an end to the violence they are called killers or John Waynes and they get their butt sued off. This is one of those situations where there is no way to win. Period. So you have to consider that whatever you do will be judged "wrong" by the media, lawyers, and big mouths, and put it out of your head. Then go do the right thing.

May 19, 2002, 04:29 PM
Rich-I have attended a couple of schools (including instructor level) and have taught several schools in what we call "Active Shooter/Rapid Response." Other agencies call it HIP, or Homicide In Progress training. I am certain it is similar tactics-wise to what "notanut" has mentioned, I'm just chiming in to try to let folks know that LE is better prepared now and not as likely to be policy hog-tied to SWAT/Negotiator response. Part of the training is directed toward explaining the tactics to the admin types so that they will understand and be able to defend immediate and agressive response to this type of action. There is also an emphasis on providing a go-by or guideline so the man on the scene make quick decisions as to how or if to intercede, not even waiting on supervisors. I don't know how much of it is out there as public knowledge (Where IS that June issue...?) so I won't get too specific, but you can rest assured that if it starts and the arriving cops have had RR or HIP, things will be different.
And yes, you are right, we will all be sued any way it is handled.

May 20, 2002, 03:52 PM

I understand your point, but there is a place where common sense and policy should come together to form an effective response. I would think a healthy dose of initiative also plays an important role. That was obviously not achieved at Columbine and I was pretty frustrated to watch the news and see cops build a perimeter when inside kids were being slaughtered. I hope those lessons were not learned in vain. I am glad to see PD's starting to teach their patrol officers how to be a first responder and make intelligent decisions at the scene.

Rich Lucibella
May 20, 2002, 06:42 PM
Amen to that.

Rich Lucibella
May 21, 2002, 11:13 AM
I don't disagree with the minimum of two. However, even this has to be fluid. There's a whole lot of areas in this country where that second man is more than a few minutes away.

Rob Pincus
May 21, 2002, 11:54 PM
Training violated? So it ain't so!:rolleyes:

I've been through both training doctrines the "it's not your job, establish a perimeter, go home at end of shift" theory and the "pair up, intervene, gain ground" approach. I'm a strong proponent of these three things:

1. Integrating tactical response training for all officers. The minimalist approach to tactics in too many training programs is appaling.

2. Flexibility in doctrine. Every situation is different and every situation is fluid. A General Order stating that the first two officers should enter a building with an active shooter could be just as bad as one stating that patrol units should be limited to establishing a perimeter unless otherwise directed by a supervisor.

3. Realizing that not all police officers are made to enter that building. There are a lot of officers who don't need to be in those situations, but who excel in another area of law enforcement. Personally, I don't want a heart surgeon conducting brain surgery on me just because he showed up first. Let him apply basic medical techniques to try to stabilize me until the professional gets there. My Rule #1 (above) exists in case an LEO needs those skills, not so that every officer should be expected to run into extreme situations.

Rob Pincus
May 23, 2002, 11:08 PM

I used to want everyone who carried a badge to be on the pointy part of the spear... but I have come to the conclusion that there are a lot of jobs to be done in a modern police department that you don't need to be razor sharp to perform. I'm not condoning the 250lb+ under 6' dayshifters who only stop drinking coffee long enough to write a speeding ticket and smoke a cigarette...but I never wanted to be the guy who processed a crime scene or wrote parking tickets! I've also worked in the sticks where back was maybe close, if the state had someone in your area and he wasn't on a wreck scene. Guys in that position can't afford to be anything but sharp, unfortunately that is not always the case...etc,etc, ad naseum.

There will be those who were told "get two & go" that won't and there will be guys who feel that they can't afford to wait. We can only hope for the best in all the circumstances... and know that any action will be criticized on Monday morning.

Jeff White
May 24, 2002, 08:06 AM
SWAT Teams or other tactical units were just out of their diapers when I got into police work in 1986. Back then it was recommended that doctrine for responding to a barricadeed suspect, hostage situation etc. had the first responding officers secure an inner perimeter. But, the senior officer on the inner perimiter was responsible for coming up with a quick if TSHTF plan to take down the problem if shooting started.

It seems that all the active shooter programs out there are just going back to that. I don't know exactly at what point things changed, but it seems they are going back to the way they were.


May 24, 2002, 09:47 AM
For Rob and the guys discussing it from the angle of who will pick up and go, and who is not sharp enough: I am betting that your observations back this up. At every class I attended or taught, we all discussed the fact that there are some folks that will naturally take the initiative when the balloon goes up. There are some folks that are good "hands," and will quickly jump behind the guy that starts organizing the response and making assignments. There are some folks that will be more than willing to "establish a command post, " direct traffic, or maybe even go for Gatorade. Observation of the Simunitions part of the training usually confirms our suspicions of who will take which role. The ones we all suspected will be better "Gatorade getters" were the ones that committed gross errors and who couldn't carry out a simple task assignment or function under no more stress than a Simunition shoot-out. The good thing is, we all know from day to day work who to take in, and the ones you don't want to will be the last ones there, anyway. Conciously or subconciously, most folks (I know, not all) know their limitations. Their beat buddies know them even if they don't.
There is really no answer for the guys in the smaller agencies that are SOS-NBA (single officer squad car, no back up available). The philosophy we teach is "do the best you can with what you got 'cause that's all you got." Then, teach them how.

Denny Hansen
May 24, 2002, 10:29 AM
By their very nature, most LEOs will want to make entry. They are used to being sent to trouble, and that is their first instinct. And that is the reason it is emphasized over and over in training for them not to get involved off-duty, wait for backup, call for additional assistance, etc. Couple that with the fact they are trained from day one not to respond to a situation without back-up (Tombstone Courage) and you have, at the very least, unwritten policy for officers to stage and not go in.

FWIW, I have it on very good authority that there were several officers who did enter Colombine High School. Didn't see it on the news? That was because the media did not go in, and the only thing they had to film was the make-shift tactical unit outside the school. With all of the resulting law suits, the local agencies are under a gag order not to talk about the incident. The axiom "believe nothing you hear, and only half of what you see" was never more appropriate.


Jeff White
May 24, 2002, 10:32 AM
Most police departments are small agencies, and it's going to be go with what you've got. We've talked about the guys who want to set up the command post arriving last and knowing who they are, but what we haven't yet touched on, is the officer who you don't under any circumstances want to follow in. We all know them, they are the ones who you hope don't show up as back up on your domestic disturbance call, because by their very presence they will take a situation that you may have calmed and been able to resolve without an arrest and will turn it into a fight.

This guy or gal may be the one you want to leave in the command post.

Another issue is multi-jurisdictional response the incident that happens in suburban or rural America will likely involve officers from at least 3 jurisdictions as initial responders.

We can say training is the answer to the multi-jurisdictional issue, but anyone who has had to deal with tring to coordinate personnel fro m 3 or more departments, where you want to have everyone trained the same way knows how difficult this can be, especially when there may be some bad blood at the higher levels between agencies.

Tough choices all the way around....I don't have an answer, just raising the question for ideas from the group.


Rob Pincus
May 24, 2002, 11:12 AM

I think you are right.. the reality of a situation often overcomes what our preferences might be. A good firend of mine had to go the full 8 seconds on one tough guy thanks to a weak link that was sent iwth him to serve a warrant. All we got was high pitched yelps over the radio. Supposedly she hit the guy in the leg with her ASP, but we never saw the marks.
I also worked (for a short time) with a multi-jurisdictional unit... there was never enough time for training to the point where we really got to know one another... and people were always missing from training for one reason or another.


I found your statements to be very true. Those who don't wnat to play are more than often ready to admit it and help out in other ways. Unfortunately, there were also a few who desperately (too desperately??) wanted to play and didn't need to be on the field, if you know what I mean.
BTW, I will be stealing that "go get Gatorade" line.


May 24, 2002, 04:41 PM

If I made a false assumption concerning the LEOs at Columbine, I apologize. I was only commenting based on the information made public, and that wasn't attractive.

Denny Hansen
May 24, 2002, 05:35 PM
No apologies are necessary. We can only operate on the knowlege we have available, and do what we can. Come to think of it, kinda sums up this thread overall.

There's been some really good input here, and hopefully we have all learned something--and that's what training is all about. Thanks to everyone.


May 25, 2002, 06:44 AM
You are quite welcome to the Gatorade line. I usually steal other people's material, but I can actually claim this one, IRRC. As far as the guy who wants to REALLY bad but shouldn't, yep, guess I forgot them. I've always said that the most dangerous thing in the world is the guy who thinks he knows it all because he actually knows so little. This is the same guy who will kick in the door before he tries THE KNOB. At least we know who he, like the Gatorade getter, is. Only problem is that he WILL beat you to the school!