Students learned about SWAT teams at the latest citizens police academy. Detective and SWAT team member Casey Borders discussed the history of SWAT and the role it plays in law enforcement.
“There were no SWAT teams here in America before the 1960s. The duty to arrest dangerous felons fell on the average detective or police officer,” Borders said. “The modern SWAT teams are small highly trained forces. They are specialized with weapons and skilled with weapons. It is a team concept that is enhanced with ongoing training. It is highly selective of personnel who get to be on the SWAT team.”
Borders said a SWAT team is used in situations when it would be too dangerous for a normal team of officers to take action, such as handling high risk warrants, felony warrants, drug warrants or arresting a dangerous person. The Waxahachie Police Department has 56 police officers, of which 11 are on its SWAT team.
When SWAT is called out to a scene, the role of patrol officers is to control the area surrounding the objective and provide a safe area for the team to function in. The team then takes up a tactical position and starts gathering information, which is relayed back to the command post. By deploying tactically it prevents the escape of a suspect or suspects by blocking exits and escape routes. It also helps to ensure the safety of everyone present and in the surrounding area.
Every team member has a different function to perform in making the operation run smoothly.
“A react team is a team of SWAT members that are designed to stay outside of the building. They would not be a part of our entry team. They may stay outside with the shield and use weapons such as the less-than-lethal round, bean bag or pepper ball. Their job would be to arrest the person if they came outside or to go after any runners,” he said.
“The entry team enters and secures the building. Sometimes it can consist of a four-man team – we prefer six,” he said. “You have a point person, a cover man, a team leader and a rear guard. The size of the entry team basically depends on the size of the operation you’re going on and how big the building is that you have to clear. If we had to go through a school you may need 12 people. Your point man on any entry team makes the determination of where the greatest threat is.”
It’s important to never enter a room alone and to have good and clear communication with team members, he said.
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