Comment(s)

Editor’s note: The following is a true story. The officer’s names and agency have been changed or omitted. The suspect’s names are not used to protect the guilty and the stupid.

The period of time from Thanksgiving untill after Christmas is known as “barricade season” in my neck-of-the-woods. The combination of liquid holiday cheer and various domestic confrontations and violence during the holiday season can lead to threats of homicide and/or suicide with armed suspects, or those thought to be armed. In the upper Midwest, a S.W.A.T. call-out in December can be a long and cold event.

Such was the case when patrol officers from “Midsize City” PD responded to a call of “a man armed with a knife threatening suicide.” Now, not to make light of the phenomenon of suicide, but police officers throughout the country and tactical teams especially are routinely forced to deal with subjects that are most times under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both who are threatening to do themselves harm. Whether it is due to mental illness, depression or angst over a failed love affair (as in this case), regardless, police officers respond and must deal with these distraught and dangerous subjects.

The responding officers were greeted at the door of the house by the knife-wielding suspect who could not be persuaded to cooperate by dropping the weapon. Once the suspect retreated back into the house the patrolmen were forced to establish a perimeter to keep the suspect from going mobile and…call S.W.A.T.

The period of time from Thanksgiving till after Christmas is known as “barricade season” in my neck-of-the-woods. The combination of liquid holiday cheer and various domestic confrontations and violence during the holiday season can lead to threats of homicide and/or suicide with armed suspects, or those thought to be armed. In the upper Midwest, a S.W.A.T. call-out in December can be a long and cold event.

Such was the case when patrol officers from “Midsize City” PD responded to a call of “a man armed with a knife threatening suicide.” Now, not to make light of the phenomenon of suicide, but police officers throughout the country and tactical teams especially are routinely forced to deal with subjects that are most times under the influence of alcohol, drugs or both who are threatening to do themselves harm. Whether it is due to mental illness, depression or angst over a failed love affair (as in this case), regardless, police officers respond and must deal with these distraught and dangerous subjects.

The responding officers were greeted at the door of the house by the knife-wielding suspect who could not be persuaded to cooperate by dropping the weapon. Once the suspect retreated back into the house the patrolmen were forced to establish a perimeter to keep the suspect from going mobile and…call S.W.A.T.

Special Weapons and Tactics
S.W.A.T in its many forms—SRT, ERT, ERU, et cetera—provides trained operators with special weapons and equipment to solve problems. The metro (multi-agency) unit that responded to this call-out fielded a less-lethal 12-gauge shotgun loaded with Defense Technologies Drag Stabilized bean bag rounds and a 40mm launcher loaded with Defense Technologies 40mm eXact iMpact sponge round.

Team negotiators spent six long hours attempting to elicit compliance from the suspect through a bullhorn, as tactical personnel waited out in the cold night, while the suspect defiantly stayed inside his warm home and refused to put down the knife.

The Plan
With negotiations failing (the suspect even refused to pick-up the team’s throw phone) the tactical plan was put into action.

The plan was to attempt to drive the suspect out into the line of fire of the kinetic energy impact munitions. A breach team was tasked with porting the sliding glass door at the rear of the residence as the arrest team laid in wait at the front. The sound of breaking glass was enough to drive the suspect, who was standing in the living room at the front of the house, out the front door.

The suspect, stepping out the door, was given multiple warnings to, “Drop the knife!” and “Get down on the ground!” He would do neither.

Force Applied
The S.W.A.T. operator armed with the designated 12-gauge less-lethal pump shotgun quickly fired four rounds of the Drag Stabilized bean bag rounds from about 20 feet away. Exiting the barrel at 280 feet per second, the 40-gram, tear-shaped projectile (#9 lead shot in a ballistic nylon bag) impacted directly on the suspect’s abdomen. These projectiles hit with the kinetic energy of a Nolan Ryan fastball and yet, the suspect refused to drop the knife. The 40mm gunner then stepped up and at a distance of 8 feet fired one round of the eXact iMpact sponge munition into the suspect’s abdomen. This 30-gram, 40mm projectile’s impact caused the suspect to drop the knife and drove him back into the residence and on his butt on a sofa.

Once team members from the rear breach team closed the gap, a follow-up Taser shot was sufficient to allow handcuffing. The situation went from dicey to rock-solid with the pull of a trigger. Medical screening by the tactical team medic on scene sent the grief stricken lothario to the ER for exam and treatment prior to incarceration at the county jailhouse.

Tactical Debrief
Special Weapons and Tactics teams are all about tactical options. Weapons and technology will never replace the trained operator as the most valuable tactical asset an agency has, but as the team leader that relayed this incident to me commented, the combined less-lethal technology available to this team made the difference. Defense Technologies kinetic energy impact munitions both in 12-gauge and 40mm allowed the tactical operators to apply force safely from a distance. Considering that the only difference between suicide and homicide is target, to close the gap inside 20 feet when force can be applied safer from farther away is foolish and dangerous. If possible, reach out and touch a target, from a distance, with impact munitions.

Force Applied
The S.W.A.T. operator armed with the designated 12-gauge less-lethal pump shotgun quickly fired four rounds of the Drag Stabilized bean bag rounds from about 20 feet away. Exiting the barrel at 280 feet per second, the 40-gram, tear-shaped projectile (#9 lead shot in a ballistic nylon bag) impacted directly on the suspect’s abdomen. These projectiles hit with the kinetic energy of a Nolan Ryan fastball and yet, the suspect refused to drop the knife. The 40mm gunner then stepped up and at a distance of 8 feet fired one round of the eXact iMpact sponge munition into the suspect’s abdomen. This 30-gram, 40mm projectile’s impact caused the suspect to drop the knife and drove him back into the residence and on his butt on a sofa.

Once team members from the rear breach team closed the gap, a follow-up Taser shot was sufficient to allow handcuffing. The situation went from dicey to rock-solid with the pull of a trigger. Medical screening by the tactical team medic on scene sent the grief stricken lothario to the ER for exam and treatment prior to incarceration at the county jailhouse.

Tactical Debrief
Special Weapons and Tactics teams are all about tactical options. Weapons and technology will never replace the trained operator as the most valuable tactical asset an agency has, but as the team leader that relayed this incident to me commented, the combined less-lethal technology available to this team made the difference. Defense Technologies kinetic energy impact munitions both in 12-gauge and 40mm allowed the tactical operators to apply force safely from a distance. Considering that the only difference between suicide and homicide is target, to close the gap inside 20 feet when force can be applied safer from farther away is foolish and dangerous. If possible, reach out and touch a target, from a distance, with impact munitions.

lesslethal2

LETTING LOOSE WITH THE DEUCE
Thirty-seven or 40mm launchers are traditionally of single-shot, top break-open and smooth bore design. Although tagging a suspect with a 76.5-gram projectile that travels around 240 fps is sure to get their attention, sometimes due to a highly motivated, drunk/drugged suspect, misses or perhaps only a peripheral hit, follow-up shots are necessary. In that case, single shot launchers are slow to reload. There are six-shot revolver-style launchers. These offer multi-shot capability but are large, can be ungainly to use in close quarters and are slow to reload.

Sage International, Ltd. debuted its new over and under double barrel launcher, the Deuce, at the 2009 SHOT Show. Available in 37 or 40mm, this launcher is impressive from the muzzle end—if you can imagine a double barrel shotgun on steroids. The design offers two quick shots. The Deuce has a trigger system in which the first trigger pull fires the top barrel and the second pull fires the shot from the lower barrel. Similar to police carbines, the Deuce has a side-folding five-position adjustable stock and Picatinny rails for mounting red-dot optics, lights or lasers. The rifled barrel of the Deuce as well as its two-shot capability provide better accuracy potential than the smooth barrel single-shot riot guns of yesteryear.

Up Next

Army Sends New Explosives Team to Train Iraqis

Editor’s note: The following is a true story. The officer’s names and agency have been…