Critical to each SWAT deployment is effective communication—this is especially true when bullets start to fly: operators need the ability to calmly share information, and team leaders and command must have intimate knowledge of what’s happening. If everyone is screaming or if the communications equipment is substandard, that only adds to the chaos. Having stood at the door while hearing gunfire, I know how stressful a lack of communication can be.
Unfortunately, this fact is often overlooked in training and can be the last consideration when departments purchase equipment. Tactical commanders and team leaders struggle with this constantly, and teams are often equipped with handheld microphones, or, worse, substandard headsets that either don’t work or don’t last.
Communications equipment designed for SWAT operations is not cheap. I started out as a team leader and later moved into command. We first used throat microphones that lasted forever but just didn’t work for everyone. We subsequently tried several communications systems, the last being in-ear bone sets (team members have recently indicated these are less than stellar, but for me they just got uncomfortable after a couple hours). What we needed was a headset that was comfortable, used a boom microphone, and suppressed the sound of gunfire while transmitting speech clearly.