View Full Version : Discussion of Early Police Tactical Units tactics

February 25, 2008, 01:22 PM
The following attachment is an early picture of the NYPD ESU. My understanding is that each ESU truck in those days would carry one Thompson Sub.

What were the tactics of these early units? These pictures seem to suggest that one officer would lay down fire with the Thompson and other officers would provide accurate fire from the cover of the truck on an elevated platform.

This must have been an exciting scene with the officer in his Class As and bus driver's cap opening up with the Thompson on the building. I wonder if this was an effective tactic back in those days.

Tactics have obviously changed and opening up on a building with a sub is unacceptable in the modern age.

February 25, 2008, 01:23 PM
Sorry. Thought I could upload the picture, here is the link.


David Armstrong
February 25, 2008, 01:28 PM
These pictures seem to suggest that one officer would lay down fire with the Thompson and other officers would provide accurate fire from the cover of the truck on an elevated platform.
The pictures are staged to make a pretty picture. Normal tactics then were to get out of the truck, just as they are today.

February 25, 2008, 02:59 PM
Things were a little different in the 1930's and 40's with regard to police operations.

Police negotiations consisted of telling the suspect to come out because they had the building covered. If the suspect made the error of shooting at the cops, typical reaction was tear gas through a window. An hour was considered a long time to attempt to negotiate and end to the situation (hey, dis is New York, we got a city to run!).

The Thompson was used when one or more desperados fired on the cops and there was a reason tear gas couldn't be deployed. The SMG was used to cover the advance of an entry team to the building. It was also used by the first man in the building's door.

February 26, 2008, 12:00 AM
Thompsons, BARs and other such weaponry was rather common among police departments. My father's small department (100 men in WV) had several of each. The govt used to give them away, and as they were free, why not? I don't think they had any real training until the 70s and then they did not choose to use the Tommy or BAR. I think they started out with carbines then got ARs. Think they had some selective fire M14s also, but I'm not sure whether or not they dated back to the 60s.

Now that I think about it, where the heck did all the Grease Guns go?

February 26, 2008, 09:21 AM

"Tests indicate that accuracy and penetration is very good, even at the longer ranges. A few feet from the muzzle the 230 grain bullet, tested on 3/4-inch yellow pine boards spaced one inch apart, ran 6 3/4 boards. At 100 yards it would plough through six boards; at 200 yards through 5 1/4; at 300 yards, 4 1/2; at the 400 mark through four boards, and at 500 yards it would still stumble through 3 3/4 [Page 1107] boards¾sufficient to cause very unpleasant sensations in the body of a victim."

"The accuracy of the sub-machine gun is decidedly interesting. File records of the Auto-Ordnance firm indicate that in a Mann rest test fired at Hartford, Conn., May 2, 1921, the mean radius using a Remington Standard 230 grain bullet at 100 yards ran 1.89 inches. At 200 yards mean radius was 4.92 inches; at 300 yards 7.63 inches at 400 yards it increased to 18.31; while at 500 yards it jumped to 20.45 inches. Accordingly, one can assume that the accuracy of the more or less spent bullets is quite uncontrolled at the longer ranges. This writer suggests that the effective range of the weapon is under 300 yards."

February 27, 2008, 01:03 PM
I remember that both Arizona and New Mexico highway patrol cars were equipped with Thompsons as late as the mid-70's. Their patrol units were often a very long way from help, so these units often had a shotgun laying in a locked carrier in front of the bench seat with a Thompson in the trunk.

I interviewed in Arizona with Flagstaff PD in the 70s and talked to several of their officers. Many of them also had SMG's in the trunk but the most common item for the locals were M1 Garands bought surplus. Lots of the officers then had experience in WW-II, Korea and/or Vietnam.

Rifleman 173
March 21, 2008, 09:43 PM
Up until about 1974 or so, special response situations were generally handled by "the detective squad." After the USMC and one of the California city police agencies began to experiment with tactics and firearms, that was the unofficial beginning of SWAT teams. A couple of years later SWAT teams were put into place based upon the success of the teams in some of the most dangerous police incidents. Generally the SWAt teams consist of an assault team, a security team and a couple of sniper/observation teams. Most of the teams are made up of experienced officers, no rookies, ex-military veterans and crack firearms shooters. All the team members are medically and psychologically checked from time-to-time to insure that they're not undergoing undo stress. Years ago there was a sniper incident in New Orleans at a Howard Johnson's Hotel. In that incident a group of detectives banded together and tried to force their way on to the roof where the sniper was shooting from as his base. The result was one detective dead and one or two wounded without the sniper being stopped. A couple of years later, west coast SWAT teams were regularly taking out snipers or lone riflemen who were shooting from houses and buildings without any losses at all to the teams.

March 22, 2008, 03:04 PM
Today’s SWAT teams do look fearsome, what with all the tactical gear, armor, helmets, etc. Then again a fire truck full of knuckle dragging coppers carrying Thompson submachine guns doesn’t exactly look like a Sunday social either. Especially in their own times.

Detachment Charlie
April 29, 2008, 01:36 AM
Before the terms Tactical or SWAT came to be used by the coppers, the Cleveland (Ohio) Police dept. had what they called the "Entry Team." About five guys -- usually Detectives, combat vets and shooters -- armed with a ram, sledge hammer, or Halligan from the Fire Dept. to deal with the door; 12 ga. pump "riot guns" loaded with 00 buck for about two of the team, and the rest went in with 2" S&W Mod. 10s with 158 br. round nose widow-makers (later +P Super Vels). My Old Man was on the team.