We have been raised in the greatest democracy on the planet. Our nation’s most powerful force is its citizens (as a whole) uniting to fight for a cause they believe in.
In a very similar way, a SWAT team is a democracy. When a team comes together to right a wrong they cannot be stopped. Tecumseh has been famously quoted as saying, “One twig is weak but a bundle of twigs is strong!” It is imperative that all members of a SWAT team understand that the command staff is there to support the operators, not the other way around. The command staff is tasked with directing the operators’ energy into positive avenues of development and training, reduce risk to their operators and handle the paperwork so the operators can focus on the task at hand.
SWAT and tactical teams already have a very dangerous job. When command staff then makes it more dangerous by not allowing the operators to use tactics that are known as industry-standard, it creates a very dangerous work environment. In fact, it puts you – the operator – at a higher risk of injury or death and is known as deliberate indifference! Some industry-standards all teams should be using are flash bangs, explosive breaching, shotgun breaching, covert clearing, sniper placement prior to warrants, less lethal options and armored vehicles…just to name a few.
Budgets are tight. Departments are running lean these days, and this has to be taken into consideration. Armored vehicles are extremely expensive but grants, donations, fundraising and federal assistance are all options to enable your team to have this capability.
Budgets are not a factor, however, when it comes to the simpler options that could save lives, such as porting a window, wall or conducting multiple breaches. These options are some of the most obvious and yet many teams have been restricted from using them because the command staff is more concerned with property damage than the safety of their officers.
The command staff must have confidence in the abilities of their operators to conduct explosive breaching, for example, before they will allow it. If a commander shows up once a year to training, how is he going to be able to evaluate the capability of the team? Command staff should be taking part in training, watching everything – constantly evaluating his operators and their capabilities. If you aren’t seeing your command staff at training, bring the training to them! Film what you’re doing. Show them you are capable because, after all, the tactic you’re fighting to use may very well save your life!
The power to change is in your hands. You, the team, can bring about positive change. It takes strength, guts and moral fortitude, but as a team you can stand up to anyone. It is your job to ensure you have the safest possible work environment!
Alone you are deadly. Together you are unstoppable!