Compliance & Incapacitation Munitions
|Deployment, delivery & training
By Ed Mohn
Click here to subscribe to Law Officer Magazine
Last issue I discussed the numerous less-lethal or, as I prefer to call them, compliance and incapacitation munitions, available to SWAT teams today. This issue I'll discuss tactical considerations, delivery systems and training for these weapons.
This requirement came to life for us at a call-out this year. While putting into action a plan to take an emotionally disturbed person (EDP) armed with a pistol into custody, he began to draw his weapon from his jacket pocket. The offender's violent response made it necessary for the lethal-cover officer, armed with a .223 rifle, to engage the suspect and stop his deadly force actions.
Team the lethal-cover officer with the less-lethal deployment officer. They should stay together and not separate. The lethal-cover officer must have the same approximate view as the less-lethal deployment officer in order to protect them. Always have designated officers armed with live-fire weapons, ready to deliver deadly force when and if it becomes necessary. Lives depend on it.
Attics, Closets, Crawl Spaces & Basements
To illustrate this point during training, I line up the many different 12-gauge rounds and 37mm rounds for the officers to view. These projectiles are made with different colors and lengths, some with writing, some without, some transparent, most not. Many of the ends are very different-some have exposed projectiles and some are sealed. If shells have writing, it's often in different colors. The key: They are all different, and while this should help officers identify the round, it many times adds to the confusion.
To minimize the possibility of intermixing and or interchanging the wrong munitions, consider adopting the following simple guidelines.
First, use dedicated systems to deliver your different munitions. Example: Use one 37mm multi-launcher to deliver chemical munitions and a different one to deliver your impact munitions. The same rule goes for your 12-gauge systems-don't use the same gun for breaching and delivering beanbags.
Second, identify, inspect and load your delivery system in a well-lit area using two officers trained and certified on that system. Ensure all delivery systems and munitions that leave the equipment truck are identified, inspected and loaded by a team of two officers. Both must check and verify the correct delivery system and munitions for the job prior to deployment. This is a nationally recognized training and operational standard.
Third, do not intermingle ammunition types in an ammo can or carrier vest when you need to take reloads with you, which will include most cases. This is a formula for disaster. Keep only one kind of munition per can and one kind of munition in your vest. Ensure you get this correct every time.
I know many teams have very restricted budgets and just cannot purchase multiple delivery systems. If you must use the same delivery system to deliver different munitions, at least consider the second guideline above. Don't carry a multitude of different munitions with you. There's a big difference between striking a suspect with a 37mm baton round and a 37mm barricade-penetrating round. Whatever you do, put some checks and balances in place to ensure you deliver the right munition.
One area concerns me: the attachment of compliance and incapacitation delivery systems to lethal weapons. The theory is you will have both at your disposal immediately. Not bad in theory, but how practical in the high stress, dynamic, ever changing situations we find ourselves in? Some of the marriages I've seen and tested work well, others not so well. For the highly trained, very active teams and personnel, these delivery systems may prove manageable when deployed properly. For many others, they may present decision issues that cause hesitation or contribute to the selection of the wrong system during highly stressful, quickly evolving situations. Again, you must test and train with whatever options you select.
For each munition and delivery system used, your team must conduct an initial end-user qualification/certification course and a yearly recertification. This training must include a written examination, practical application, practice, scenario training and a qualification course of fire with realistic standards. It's expensive to conduct this training, but it's essential. Do not scrimp in this area. Realistic training develops capable, confident officers who can use the munitions in accordance with your team's established guidelines.
Last, use highly skilled, competent instructors. Entirely too many "instructors" out there have attended a few classes and have a nice stack of instructor certifications, but have virtually no real-world experience. Some have no police training and/or have never served in the military. Some have never had to put into practice the tasks they teach. Good instructors embrace knowledge, experience, demonstrated ability and continuous efforts to improve and perform.
Sergeant Ed Mohn is a 16-year veteran of the Libertyville (Ill.) Police Department. He has been a member of the Northern Illinois Police Alarm Systems Emergency Services Team (NIPAS-EST) since 1991 and serves as the entry team leader. Mohn has been awarded the NIPAS Medal Of Valor, the NIPAS Commendation Medal and the Illinois Tactical Officers Association Unit Citation. He currently serves on the Illinois Tactical Officers Association Board of Directors and the Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm Systems Operational Committee, and he's an Illinois state certified lead instructor in a wide variety of tactical and firearm-related disciplines.
|Back to previous page|