Continuing with recaps of the Writers Police Academy. A small group of us had the chance to go off site to an apartment building the Sheriffs Department used for training exercises, to learn how to clear an apartment.
Our instructor, Lt. Randy Shepherd, who’s a sniper for the SERT team, began by showing us the “hardware” their teams would use. He started with body shields. The first two were considered type 3A shields, although one was much stronger than the other.
When I asked why they didn’t call the second one a 3B, or a 4, Shepherd “rewarded” me by letting me carry it. Sheesh. He had already pointed out that the normal police was to let the “knuckle-draggers” go in first with these shields. For those who haven’t met me, I’m five-four. I don’t know how much the shield really weighed, but for all intents and purposes, it was sixty-eleven pounds.
(To be fair, Lt. Shepherd isn’t a whole lot taller than I am–but he works out!). Note that I’m not wearing the shield around my neck for this shot–easier to rest it on the ground! And also, what you can’t see in either picture are the two little round mirrors mounted on either side of the window, so you can look around corners, etc.
At any rate, these shields should stop a pistol round, especially if the officer was wearing a patrol vest.The SERT team wears much ‘fancier’ attire.
We carried plastic pistols, and two were given the “big guns” – an M-4 semi-automatic and an H&K UMP 45.
Randy explained some reasons the SERT team would be called out.
A patrol unit received an alarm call and went to the building where he saw an open door. He calls for backup. (Unlike TV cops, these guys can’t rely on a director yelling “cut” if they want to go home in one piece). They’ll go in guns drawn.
Another thing Randy pointed out. You know how you see the TV cops entering a room with their weapons stretched out in front of them? Nope. That’s asking for the bad guy to knock it out of their hands. When they go into an unknown area, they hold their weapons in close.
Another reason to call in the tactical SERT team is when there’s a need to serve a high-risk search warrant—where they expect weapons, and where there’s a history of “bad stuff.” The SERT team will secure the residence, then turn the scene over to the detectives.
With one exception the rule is “Never Search Alone.” The exception came about after the Columbine shooting. If there’s active shooting and people, especially kids, are in danger, a cop will go in alone. And then, it becomes a ‘hunt’ rather than a ‘search.’
Next, we schlepped our gear to the second story of the apartment building and learned more about how to execute the search. SERT teams are usually 5 or 6 people. The first team member moves inside in the direction of the most perceived danger. Number two goes in the opposite direction. Three follows one, four follows two. Weapons drawn, shields up, checking to be sure the rooms are empty. As the team moves forward, positions will change, depending on what rooms there are, so four could become one, etc. They stick close together.
It took us about 2 or 3 minutes, I think, to go through the exercise. One person asked Randy what a typical time for the “real” cops would be. He said it’s about 8 seconds, although he said they would have done the one we did in about 5. We’d have been dead meat!
He also demonstrated “slicing the pie.” We were in the room and he was in the hallway, inching forward. He could see us before we could see him.
Causes Terry Odell Supports
Pro Literacy Worldwide, The Nature Conservancy, The Adult Literacy League, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society