How differently would the Eric Garner scenario have been if the law enforcement officers on scene were all negotiator certified?
How differently would the Michael Brown incident have played out if the law enforcement officer involved would have had SWAT training? Would he of backed up his patrol car right next to the two males that matched the description of robbery suspects to speak with them? I propose with SWAT training the choice of approach that that officer made would have been different.
I am not Monday morning quarterbacking. I am proposing that all law enforcement personnel receive Super Bowl training. You never know when and where you will be faced with the biggest game of your life (metaphorically speaking).
An incident can escalate to SWAT proportions in seconds. One second you the law enforcement officer are explaining to a motorist why you pulled them over and the next the driver punches you in the mouth through the window and runs for the tree line, possibly then kicking in somebody’s door to hide in their house.
The bulk of what law enforcement personnel does is speak with people and respond to calls of all intensity levels.
Why not SWAT certify and Negotiator certify all police officers so that they possess the knowledge and training to respond? High risk training shouldn’t be a privilege it should be mandatory.
In this article specialized training is referred to as a privilege because there are things that the law enforcement officer is currently expected to do, to receive the training (ie be with the department several years). Officers are forced into the predicament of having to earn the right to training that will make them more effective officers with a better decision making and survival rate.
It is ok to have SWAT and Negotiators as specialized units. That can remain a privilege available to those who truly have a passion for it and put the extra training hours in. But the knowledge and ability that the officer is armed with during SWAT and Negotiator training should be mandatory.
What are some of the reasons why departments use to turn down specialized training requests such as SWAT and Negotiation?
Departments will say that they can’t afford to send their officers to training. Some even tell their officers that they don’t need that type of training in their current assignment. Both those statements I believe are misconceptions.
Departments find millions to settle law suits. It would cost far less to properly train their personnel. Further, everybody who has done this job for any length of time knows that the type of day you have will dictate what kind of skills you will need, not your assignment.
The survival of the law enforcement officer depends primordially on their ability to talk and respond to aggression at any level that it is presented.
During in service training, you see video after video of law enforcement officers getting shot during a traffic stop while sitting in the patrol car. I propose that incidents of that type would minimize in number drastically if the SWAT mindset was instilled in every officer.
How would the tragic traffic stop in south GA involving a Vietnam vet have played out differently if the deputy had SWAT training? In basic mandate they do not teach you how to subdue a driver on a traffic stop that is x-military and is shooting at you with a rifle. SWAT training addresses similar scenarios.
There will be those that will say that to SWAT certify law enforcement personnel might create a violent police force. I rebut with the following; having the ability to respond to high level threats only puts more proficient officers out there on the street. When you dial 911 what type of officer do you want to show up when somebody is invading your home?
We have all seen SWAT calls where all it took was issuing commands over a megaphone. The perpetrators walk out with their hands up are cuffed and peacefully escorted to the back of a patrol car. We have also seen the SWAT calls where OC pellets are deployed through the bathroom window followed by the officers kicking the door of the house in and breaching it with force and precision.
Because of Hollywood and police shows the public is lead to believe that SWAT is a deadly unit that always enters with a bang. It is not. Although that type of training prepares the officer to subdue most levels of threat, officers with that training are equally prepared to subdue the threat with verbal commands.
The objective is to prepare the law enforcement officer to face all levels of threat that they might be surprised with.
Something to consider is that SWAT handles more high risk calls than a regular patrol officer, yet the casualty rate for SWAT members versus patrol officers is substantially less. That is probably because SWAT finds its safety in tactics and numbers.
Why are traffic stops and domestic violence calls among the most dangerous calls that a law enforcement officer responds to? It is because the volatility of humanity expresses itself the most in those two types of calls for service.
As we said earlier, one second the officer can be asking for the driver’s license and the next on the ground fighting for their life or chasing the driver into a house.
As for the affordability all it would take is three weeks salary to give the law enforcement officer all the specialized training that they need to perform efficiently, safely and tactically on the streets: SWAT training (level 1) similar to the training that professionals like negotiators that work with SWAT receive that aren’t technically on the SWAT team, it is a sixty hour week, Negotiation certification and Crisis Intervention Training. Each is approximately a forty hour week.
If you think about the majority of police work on the street whether call for service or self-initiated it is prefaced by some sort of precursory verbal engagement that could go either way. Additionally by the subtleties of the tactical approach which could invite, discourage or evoke certain behaviors from the subject.
The ability of the law enforcement officer to read between the lines and recognize the cues of flight or fight emitted by the subject is critical. The aforementioned skill allows the law enforcement officer to control the outcome on most occasions by preemptive tactics. The only way to accomplish this is training. Basic training obviously isn’t enough. That is why it is called “basic.”
The sad fact is that due to current trends training beyond basic, is unattainable until you have been with the department a number of years.
If you think about it one of the main issues that our profession is facing is lack of training.
Keep in mind that law enforcement officers don’t receive calls for service simply to take a report. The good ones are mentally and tactically equipped to resolve the issue and properly route it through the correct channels, be those judicial or alternative resources.
Is it fair to the community to have to wait several years, of paying dues before they can have well-trained law enforcement personnel (capable of addressing most threat levels) patrolling their neighborhoods?
Whether or not the officer is the appointed negotiator for the department, keep in mind that as a chief your department could be liable for everything that every officer says on duty. Why wouldn’t you want them to be expert negotiators?
Regardless of what officers are on the SWAT team, any of your officers could be faced with a SWAT scenario tomorrow. Are they prepared? Or will you have to explain to a deceased law enforcement officer’s family how they were killed in the line of duty because they weren’t trained on how to respond to the type of attack deployed against them?
It would be a budgetary nightmare to equip every officer with SWAT gear, however……..
Police officers are called to listen to the problem and fix things. If the solution can only be found with resources outside of the realm of the tools we have then that is when you involve specialized units. Every law enforcement officer should have the same mental tools (same knowledge, same understanding).
If a law enforcement officer encounters a call where the best tactics to employ is a ballistic shield, don’t you think the officer would be better off knowing that? Even if they aren’t equip with one at least the knowledge will alter their approach and their likelihood for survival just increased.
Do you still think that the current assignment of a patrol officer should limit them from certain training?
Officer Eric Aguiar, LLB has a passion for fairness and seeks to assist in the personal, professional, and spiritual growth for LEOs. Eric believes that leaders must foster and motivate law enforcement subordinates and co-workers. Everyone in the profession deserves the opportunity to grow into the role they wish to fulfill. Eric taught legal courses at a North-Atlanta technical college for 7 years before starting his law enforcement career. He currently serves as a University system police officer, positively influencing students, faculty, and staff. Eric was recently credentialed in negation by Notre Dame University. He believes that negotiation skill is an important leadership asset. His ultimate career goal is to serve as a police chief who focuses on professional growth and team development by cultivating a department culture supporting good morale and uniformity of leadership at all command levels.