“Tony” was a hardcore street thug with felony warrants for his arrest. He had assaulted more than his share of cops. Young, strong and violent, he had a reputation as not goin’ to jail without a fight. The tactical team surrounded the apartment in the housing project where he was hiding out and gave him verbal orders to come out. Of course Tony failed to cooperate, not even acknowledging his presence. S.W.A.T. doesn’t play that game, never has. The team leader then ordered the introduction of chemical munitions into the location. Tony was dumb but he wasn’t stupid. Seeing the S.W.A.T. operators outfitted with gas masks and a gas team taking a position behind a body bunker in the front yard, he had a change of heart (or cowardice) and surrendered to the arrest team without incident. He said and I quote, “Tear gas…I didn’t know you guys were that serious!”
Tactical teams and their use of chemical munitions do not always go so smoothly. I’ve been on armed barricaded suspect operations (always in the extreme cold of winter or the heat of summer) where suspects did not surrender or exit despite the application of large doses of Oleoresin Capsicum and CS gas. I’ve also been on numerous S.W.A.T. ops where we found the perp in the attic buried in insulation hiding from us, and the effects of chemical munitions. My team has been in two shootings after applying chemical munitions on armed barricaded bad guys who refused surrender. In both incidents we went home at the end of the shift and the suspects went to the morgue.
Chemical munitions like CS gas have been in the arsenal of S.W.A.T. teams since these teams started in the 1970’s.