Statement of the problem issue
The need to create and manage a multi jurisdictional tactical emergency response team is dependent on certain situations. The assistance and expertise of SWAT requires unusual circumstances that can be considered beyond the abilities of normal law enforcement agencies. Such circumstances include counter terrorism operations, rescues of hostages, and high risk search warrants. Similarly, the SWAT unit offers special assistance to the situations where there members of a gang are known to be present and there are weapons used by the gang members. Such situations are highly risky for only one law enforcement agency to be involved and require the need for collaboration and corporation with other agencies. The SWAT unit is therefore a special tactical unit that involves team members from various law enforcement agencies.
Rationale for choosing a collaborative approach
A collaborative approach is important for such situation because it engages the whole government in fighting against crime. It is the responsibility of the entire government to ensure that urban centers remain free of crime or at least have crime incidences reduced in urban centers. In order to achieve this, creation of a multi jurisdictional tactical emergency response team would ensure that situation beyond the capabilities of local law enforcement agencies are effectively handled. In addition, law enforcement agencies have rivalries amongst themselves. This is mainly caused by the limitation of borders and jurisdictions. In order to avoid this rivalry and encourage effective enforcement of the law, a multi jurisdictional tactical emergency response team can be created to allow a collaborative approach towards the situation.
Identification and description of SWAT
The multi jurisdictional tactical emergency response team will be composed of members of a police department within a particular state. This is to ensure that the team covers a wide jurisdiction and does not have to be limited by borders. The SWAT team will constitute of sheriffs and members of state police departments. Sheriffs in large counties may not be able to handle crime cases of particular degree therefore requiring the services of SWAT. The member of this team should have a lot of experience in police assignments, patrols, and military services. The personnel who will join the SWAT team have to be taken through vigorous training. This requires that the agency to offer personnel to join the SWAT team have to be large agencies with enough resources and personnel. The agencies have to be involved in training and equipping their personnel into the special unit.
The officers in the SWAT team will be expensively trained and this implies that they will have to be engaged at all times as they wait for an emergency call. As mentioned earlier, the officers will come from various law enforcement agencies within a particular state. Therefore as they wait for a duty call, they will be deployed to their regular duties. But it is expected that they be available for SWAT emergency calls. While on their respective regular duties, the SWAT officers will have to lock their special uniforms, weapons, and equipments in secure lockers within specialized police vehicles.
Selection or recruitment of the SWAT officers is done through volunteers within the law enforcement agency. Before an officer is selected or allowed to apply to join the SWAT team, they must be having an experience of at least five years within the particular agency. This is because, the SWAT officers are still considered law enforcement officers and there is need to be aware of the policies and procedures involved in law enforcement. Selection process involves taking each applicant through some vigorous psychological, oral, written, and physical agility tests. This is to ensure that they are both physically and psychologically prepared for the tactical operations. There is a lot of stamina required to be able to withstand the extreme tactical operations and all officers have to be fit physically. The officers are also trained on shooting skills in order to develop accuracy when required to shoot during an operation. Other training include: using specialized weapons, roping techniques, handling k9 units, negotiating, first aid, defensive tactics, sniper training, and explosives.
The team uses specialized equipments because of the nature of interventions they are required to attend to. The equipments are designed only for use in certain circumstances. The most common weapons include tear gas grenades, stinger, flash bang, sniper rifles, shot guns, assault rifles, and machine guns. The officers have to be able to use these equipments to have long range accuracy and increased penetration. They are also entitled to armored rescue vehicles for easier maneuvering and insertion during a highly risky and tactical operation.
Tasks and operational guidelines of SWAT
As mentioned earlier, the main role of the multi jurisdictional tactical emergency response team is to handle special crime cases which are beyond the capabilities of the local law enforcement agencies. Such circumstances include rescuing of hostages, counter terrorism, controlling riots, and resolving high risk situation by ensuring there is minimum damage of property, loss of life, and injury.
The incident commander will request the SWAT team to respond to high risk warrants, suicide intervention, hostage episodes, and any other situation that requires the services of the team. They have to initiate their services for all departments or law enforcement agencies involved. The incident commander will provide all the needed information before initiating a high risk operation. For instance, the commander will be required to provide information of whether or not the suspect(s) is dangerously armed, the suspect’s past involvement in criminal activities, the suspect’s position to be able to take cover, and the suspect’s refusal to submit to calls for arrest. It is important to know whether the suspect is armed or not in order to prepare the officers for the operation. This information helps to know the level of danger posed to the public and the law enforcement agents at the particular location. Knowing the position of the suspects, helps the officers in taking cover as well as approaching the situation carefully in order to avoid anything that would precipitate uncalled for reaction from the suspect.
Operational guidelines focus on the following: the SWAT team components, policy considerations, risk assessment, planning, logistical needs, and resource needs. With regards to team component, the SWAT team should be able to perform command and control, containment, and apprehension. Regarding policy consideration, there need to assess the extent of its mission and the limitations of all the agencies involved. There is further need for periodical assessment of the mission and limitations. The procedures and policies should be maintained and established by the agencies represented. The policies should identify the particular situations needed for the involvement of the team, the organization and function of the team, selection and recruitment procedure, training, deployment, multiagency response, and out of jurisdictional response.
Regarding risk assessment, there is need for threat evaluation in order to appropriately allocate resource and respond to a situation. Planning entails conducting briefings before any operation, designating personnel to plan a tactical response before an operation, ensuring all personnel understand operational plan, and ensuring a contingency for medical operation. If an SWAT team anticipates for use of any resources, it has to ensure that the resources are made available prior to the operation. Training activities also require resources. The agencies involved are expected to large enough to provide resources and personnel into the team.
Challenges and conflicts involved
The issue of jurisdiction will still come into play irrespective of the fact that several agencies within a state join forces to form the team. Some of the operations may go beyond the state borders requiring law enforcement agencies from neighboring state to be involved and play leading a role. If in case the SWAT team is mandated to operate outside its jurisdiction, there should be a clear protocol that defines the mandate of its operations as well as that of local law enforcement agency in the neighboring jurisdiction. There is need for a working relationship to respond in multiple jurisdictions and to avoid any conflict that may arise as a result of boundary issues.
Califonia Post. (2005). SWAT: Operational guidelines and standardized training recommendations. Califonia: Califonia commission on peace officer standards and training.
Kraska, P. B., & Kaeppler, V. E. (1997, February). Militarizing American Police: The Rise and Normalization of Paramilitary Units. Social problems, pp. 1-18.
Llyod, J. (2000, May 31). Change in tactics: Police trade talk for rapid response. Retrieved from CSMonitor: http://www.csmonitor.com/2000/0531/p2s2.html