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Old February 28, 2009, 01:28 AM   #1
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SWAT Equipment/Tactics

This question is mainly for LEO's:

I have seen a few documentaries on the training and equipping of LAPD and Cook County SWAT cops and I noticed they carry some array of less lethal and non-lethal weaponry. Why bother sending in the SWAT Team if the situation has not become a truly tactical environment? Don't read too much into my question. It really is mere curiosity. From a soldier's perspective, when a situation has degenerated to live-fire shooting, it makes no sense to arm tactical troops with pepper spray and instruct them to "take 'em alive." Educate me, please.

Jonathan H.
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Old February 28, 2009, 01:39 AM   #2
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Not a bad question at all. A SWAT officer is responsible for all the same levels of force that a typical patrol officer is. A lethal force situation can de-escalate into a no shoot situation in less than a second. Immagine, just as you toss the bang through the door the guy drops his gun and sprints towards you. You can't shoot an unarmed man simply for running towards you.

Every agency will vary but as an example our use of force continuum involves command presence, verbal commands, physical control holds, OC spray, impact devices (baton/ less lethal launcher/ K9), Taser, carotid restraint, lethal force...In that order. Not that you have to exhaust each level in turn but you have to be able to choose the appropriate response from that continuum.

A SWAT officer has to have all the same levels of force available that any patrol officer does or the department would open itself to liability if an excessive amount of force was used simply because the right tools were not available. An important thing to remember is that unlike most TV shows and movies portray, SWAT teams are not commando kill squads. They are teams sent in to gain control over high risk situations while keeping the violence to the lowest level possible.

Edited to add: The incident that has the highest probability in resulting in a gunfight that a law enforcement agency may have to respond to is an active shooter scenario (ie: schoolyard shooting). Active shooter scenarios will involve the first responding officers (2 two 4 typically) not SWAT. SWAT teams are used for a variety of missions including high risk warrant services, hostage/ barricaded subjects, etc. Bad guys are combative in a lot more ways than simply with guns. You have to be prepared to deal with them on an appropriate level.

Last edited by BoulderTroll; February 28, 2009 at 01:51 AM.
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Old February 28, 2009, 02:24 AM   #3
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Not at all a LEO but I know the answer...
When an "agency" intervenes they have not only a vast array of goodies at their disposal they also have first, second and third layer of backup. The have not only the option of LTL weapons with bean bags and pepper ball paint guns they also back it up with fully lethal shotgun and/or rifle rounds.
Us civvies are limited to fully lethal rounds as we are not only without trained backup but OUR "rules of engagement" are vastly different then that of LEO... For us "shoot to stop threat with *any* force needed is not allowing us to intentionally wound... they are trying to put a bad guy in a cell... we are trying to stay healthy. they face risk to selves and we are off the hook to "Stop the threat" they have to cypher the situation. We are not limited as they are...
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Old March 1, 2009, 12:34 AM   #4
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Statistically, the overwhelming majority (high 90-something percentile) of high-risk incidents involving a tactical team are resolved without the use of lethal force by the tactical team.

Which means they resolve it some other way.

Which means they have to have the means to do so.
Meriam Webster's: Main Entry: ci·vil·ian Pronunciation: \sə-ˈvil-yən also -ˈvi-yən\, Function: noun, Date: 14th century, 1: a specialist in Roman or modern civil law, 2 a: one not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force b: outsider 1, — civilian adjective
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Old March 1, 2009, 12:52 AM   #5
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Erik, thanks for the information. I found it very insightful. After reading your post, I sure as hell would not want to be a SWAT officer and those LEO's that server in that role have my utmost respect. God be with you as you make your split-second decisions to shoot/bean-bag/tazer/or spray.

Jonathan H.
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Old March 7, 2009, 05:12 PM   #6
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Because even though we're tactical cops, we're still cops, not executioners.

If the only tool you've got is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail.

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence upon those who would do us harm." -George Orwell

"One hundred rounds do not constitute firepower. One hit contitutes firepower." -Gen. Merritt Edson, USMC
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