Citizens Police Academy

The Citizens Police Academy is a wonderful experience.


Anything that is high risk, the SWAT team handles.  This includes barricades and high risk raids.  If there are automatic weapons and high risk vehicles take down, they handle. 

You need at least three years in the Department to be considered for the SWAT team.  Then there is a trial process involving a physical test and a shooting.  You must score in the 90 percentile.  There is a psychological screening and an interview process.  Once you do that you go to SWAT school for three weeks.  You are the a basic SWAT officer. 

They wear green because green is much more tactical than blue.  The Maryland Training Commission sets what is in the curriculum.  They can go to any school in the state.  Our tactical and weapons might not be what other agencies use.  Our school is run here and downtown and in other locations.  It might be at a different spot every day.  We also train with other jurisdictions.

Our SWAT team is two platoons of 15.  We also train with other platoons.

We have better training and better equipment.  Our vest can stop a rifle round and the regular police vests will stop only a pistol round.

We are there to get the bad guys.  We use the strength in numbers to our advantage.

Their number one job is to save lives.  That is why they train and do what they do.

SWAT is Special Weapons and Tactics.  The negotiator is one of their tools.  It is the first unit that will have some kind of communication.  The negotiators are separate from SWAT but they work on the same team.

How often are they dispatched?  It is random.  They did over 500 raids last year.  Barricades seem to come out in threes.  The City doesn’t have a lack of things in which they can get involved.

When they are not training, they are trying to catch up on administrative work and then they are riding around in hot spots.

Questions: What is the history of the SWAT team?  In 1964 in Los Angeles there was a sniper loose.  There were situations in which the officers were outgunned.  In one situation the officers had to go to a pawn shop to get better equipment.

The top cause are with repeat offenders.  When we do our briefing we run their records all over the country.  We are not the judiciary branch, but the executive branch.

He gets this question all the time: “Do you fell safe doing this?”  He feels safer than being on patrol.  He trusts every one of his teammates.

They have been after human traffickers and regular drug dealers who are at a higher level.  They have gone after dogs and police officers. 

“Do you partner with ATF?”  They partner with everybody.

A “no-knock” or “knock” raid is specified in a warrant.  If they are going after a juvenile and he is staying at grandmother’s house, they are not knocking down her door.  They use common sense.  When an officer arrests somebody, he needs to charge the person with everything.  This includes resisting arrest. 

We did have a female officer who is in the Hopkins Hall of Fame for Lacrosse.  There was another who is a chief.  The women have to pass everything the men do.  There is not a high number of females who try out.  In the last class there were two.  One couldn’t pass the shooting and another the physical.  You can try out again.  The physical requires running a mile and a half under 12, 50 push-ups, sit-ups, and pull puts.  You have to take the test annually.

They have only been shot at twice and it was recently.  Often the person is sleeping and taken by surprise.  We have snipers on our team and counter-snipers.

Would we benefit from some type of militarized equipment?  Absolutely.  Every piece of equipment we get, we have to justify.  There are people who think that SWAT is too military.  Whom do the police call when they need to call 9-1-1?  It is SWAT.  At the riots it was SWAT who were out on the streets.

SWAT gets its own gear and they have to requisition for it.  Patrol officers should be able to have rifles if they want.  Patrol doesn’t have rifles and they are trying to get more.  SWAT have heavy vests and rifles.

The vehicle is called “Bear Cat.”  It is a Ford F550.  An armor plate is put on it.  It is 19,000 pounds.  It has run flat tires.  There are gun ports all around it.  This is essential during riots.  There is the driver, medic, and a negotiator in it.  It is a rescue vehicle.  They had to get the whole thing revamped after the riot.  The tires are very expensive.  It took them six months to get new tires the last time.  They take this with them every time they go into a raid.  It is a diesel and the gas mileage is about three miles to the gallon.

We have two platoons that work.  If one of the team is working, you will have an immediate response.  They can respond from here because they have their gear with them.  They will be there within an hour.  They usually have people there immediately.  There is a maximum of four sergeants and two lieutenants. 

SWAT are paid the same amount as any other officer.  There has been plenty of time when they work 16 hours shifts.  They are deployed out of a regular van.

They use a medic from the City to be there SWAT medic.  HE has been to SWAT school.  L On a barricade they might have two.

They try to start with just talking with the person.  They are trying to use other tools.  Some times they have to go in.

Even if they encounter a person, they will say “Come to us.”  A flash bag is a diversion device.  They make sure that they take a peek before throwing something.

One office has been pushing for drones.  We have robots.  We have one that can open a door handle.  Some agencies are using drones.


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