It wasn’t me

May 24th, 2012 at 5:12 pm by under COPS 101

This week the Civilian Police Academy had a few special guests. Actually, it was a team of special guests – the Special Response Team (known by many as SWAT).

To start the evening off, as we’ve done every week for the last seven, we went to the classroom to learn some of the basics of the unit.

Asst. Chief Shawn Keen led this discussion.  Members of the “A-Team” assisted him. The other SRT team is the “B-Team”. Technically, they aren’t ranked, but I think if you ask anyone on either team, they have a little friendly competition going on at all times. (On that note, the “A-Team” will quickly alert you that they won in the most recent competition.)

So, there are two teams to make sure someone is on call at all times. They switch off every week. One week it’s the “A-Team” and the next it’s the “B-Team”. During the week they’re on call, each member (8 members on the team, plus two snipers) must be available at all times—that’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

These guys (the team is all guys right now, but doesn’t have to be) are called to some of the most dangerous call outs: hostages, snipers, barricaded suspects, high-risk warrants, etc. For that reason, and not surprisingly, they are trained to perfection. Not only are they training twice a month, but also each member is recertified every six months. Imagine if you were given a “try-out” every six months for your job. While many people are, some of you probably can’t imagine getting every part of your job perfect every six months during evaluation. These individuals are required to be on top of their game, all the time. You never know when the next call is coming. When one of the team members decides to leave, they have try-outs for their replacement. Chief John Plasse said at one of the most recent try-outs, five people attempted the position.

So, how do these guys work? Well, carefully to say the least. The first guy that goes in is a shield man. He literally carries a shield and wears additional armor to lead everyone into whatever the location is. The following officers are in pairs. Two officers clear one room, and the officers behind them proceed to the next.

Here is a look at a house clearing. Members of the academy scattered throughout this practice home. We weren’t considered dangerous, so we were able to just witness the SRT team do their work. Some of the video is from Mike Latta who was downstairs when the team came into the house. The other video is from a camera I was wearing while waiting for the team to make it to the top floor. Also, note the “noise bomb” at the beginning.

VIDEO: Cops 101 It wasn’t Me: wthitv.com

The team also demonstrated a “car assault”. I acted as the “suspect” in this case. (I promise, it wasn’t me.) For instance, if I had been leading police on a chase and my car stopped. This is how they would approach and safely apprehend me. You can listen for the “noise bomb” in this one, or you can watch my face. You’ll see it!!

VIDEO: Cops 101 It wasn’t Me: wthitv.com

The key for these officers is communication. They work together and train together to know one another very well.

They are prepared for almost anything. They also have some pretty amazing equipment. Robot cameras. Scope cameras. Noise bombs. (Did I mention noise bombs?) Scent bombs. Guns that don’t shoot bullets, but instead shoot to superficially injure someone. Heat cameras. This team has some of the cool stuff you see on television.

If you’re anything like me, you’re thinking how much does all of this cost.  Well, the good news is that some of their equipment was free. Most people credit Chief Plasse for the humvees, the armor trucks, and the “ambulance”. The humvees are from the military. When they were done with them, we took them off their hands, cleaned them up, and got them into working order. The armor truck is an old money mover. (Old is relative. The one they have is only a 1995.) They cleaned it up, painted it, and made it their own. It’s virtually the same story for the “ambulance”. Now, unfortunately, their cool “toys” aren’t usually free, but since they aren’t spending thousands on vehicles, it gives them a little more money to spend.

Next week, we graduate. Just like high school graduation or college graduation, minus the cap, gown, crying parents, and poor speeches, but the same type of amazing, eye opening experiences.  More to come of course..

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