SWAT TALK: After The Entry

You have a trained and briefed team to handle inner perimeter on the outside of the location and your entry teams have practiced Plan A based on what is known about the inside of the building.  Also, both teams know they are not to leave their areas of responsibility unless directed to do so.

After sufficient scouting and Googling the surrounding area, your teams deploy without being seen or heard.  Your entry team stacks at the door leaving a protective “body bunker” type shield and a fire extinguisher near the point of entry.  The team announces, breaches the door and perhaps deploys a “bang” with all but the rear guard (probably the doorman) instantly following the explosion into the building.

Using whatever method your team prefers and has practiced, it quickly begins room clearing, trying to keep a balance between momentum, assignments and thoroughness.  This is where things sometimes start to unravel, maybe because of the lack of planning or training for what you may encounter on the inside, and you may encounter virtually anything.  However, there are some tried and true recommended procedures established by pioneers in this business who have networked and gathered information from across the country and around the world.  Before others have to learn by doing it, they can digest some of this information to include in plan A, B, C and so forth. Plan A seldom works to perfection.

Closed Doors
It has been an accepted practice for initial entry officers to pass closed doors to closets, etc.  The idea here is to not lose momentum, but the philosophy applies to entries where the team is sure it has the element of surprise rather than a search scenario where the entry will be more covert and methodical.

Additionally, if the team has the element of surprise, especially where a flash-bang is deployed, suspects will not normally have time to seek a hiding place and/or will not have time or the desire to get a weapon.

In such dynamic entries, follow-up officers will have the opportunity to check behind closed doors using accepted techniques.  If you believe you have a better way, use it.

You Catch’em, You Clean’em               
Lead officers are normally those who make first contact with subjects, whether they are suspects or so-called “non-combatants.”  If the person is believed to be a suspect, the officer first making contact should normally be the one to take him or her into custody rather than pass the person on to another officer.  This is because the initial officer almost always has more information about the suspect, having observed the person’s actions from the start.  If another officer is available, one officer should secure the suspect while the other officer provides cover.  This is, plain and simple, the Contact/Cover doctrine that should always be used by law enforcement officers if possible.

Too Many Words
When confronting ANY suspect, Keep It Super Simple (KISS)!  Too much talk only confuses the situation.  Break the TV training of saying “Show me your hands,” and simply command “HANDS UP,” or “MANOS ARRIBA,” if Spanish is called for.

Stay Inside!
If there are multiple suspects and one or more of them exit the location, entry officers must NOT follow them, but let the inner perimeter team apprehend them.  I cannot stress enough the value of one or more K-9’s among the officers on the outside.  Along with entry officers not exiting the location in pursuit of a suspect goes perimeter officers not entering the location, much less firing into it…Yes, it’s happened.

When it’s Over
Once the location is “secure,” make sure! This is the time for a more thorough search, as suspects and small children can hide in very small places.  A K-9 can be a great help in locating such people, as can pole mirrors to search attics and other such places.  TIP:  Good mirrors can be ordered through local septic tank cleaning companies.

If a bang was deployed, make sure it did not create a smoldering carpet or piece of furniture!  This is why a fire extinguisher should have been left at the front door.  The body bunker was in case an officer rescue became necessary, but we’ll leave that procedure for another time.

Is all of this written in stone?  Not quite, but it should be written in your training manual, in my opinion.  Will it always work?  No, but I believe it should be the basis for your tactical toolbox.  Did we cover everything?  Not by a long shot.  There are countless unknown variables.  What do you do when they occur?  Adapt and overcome.  That’s what plan B, C, D & etc. are all about.