By Michele Coppola
Tech Beat Magazine
Good training and readiness are critical for successful SWAT operations. In 2013, the Weapons and Protective Systems Technology Center of Excellence (WPSTC) completed a project aimed at improving planning and training for tactical operations.
Several years ago, the Tactical Operations Technology Working Group identified the need for an affordable and realistic training environment specifically focused on SWAT operations, but first, common terminology and a set of collective tasks common to police tactical operations from which to draw needed to be identified.
WPSTC coordinated the effort, known as the Tactical Operations Mission Analysis Project, and in 2013 produced a draft document titled Report: Mission Essential Tasks for Tactical Operations. WPSTC circulated the draft for comment during 2013, and gave a presentation on the project at the annual National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) Tactical Operations Conference. Release of the report is anticipated for 2014.
“This effort began several years ago with NTOA,” explains Andy Mazzara, WPSTC director. “They were interested in bringing structure and organization to how tactical teams look at the way they conduct operations in the field. This was meant to ultimately achieve a framework structure so they can do better assessments of their preparedness and readiness of level of training, and improve the level of professionalism and training at the team and department level for tactical operations.”
WPSTC organized a panel of nine experienced tactical law enforcement professionals that reviewed a number of SWAT-related documents as part of its analysis. The panel identified operational scenarios and prospective missions, and collective tasks associated with each mission by operational function. Tactical team commanders can use the resulting list to identify their unit mission-essential tasks.
“The project developed the framework that focuses on operational functions and broke them down to collective tasks and assigned task numbers,” Mazzara says. “It really presents the professional community of SWAT with a very structured, organized and well-defined description of how and what they do when they perform their operations. This will help them improve their level of professionalism, readiness and quality of training within the SWAT community.”
Ed Hughes of WPSTC, the project lead for the effort, explained that the panel first adapted 10 operational scenarios representative of tactical mission sets encountered by operators (e.g., terrorists-school bus, barricaded suspect and bank robbery).
“Then we derived the collective tasks needed to accomplish each of the missions and organized them by command and control functions, tactical maneuver functions and tactical support functions. This provided some organization to a broad range of tasks,” Hughes explains.
The framework devised by the panel portrays linkages between mission, collective and individual task proficiency, training plans, and tactical readiness. The framework also identified remaining gaps that could be addressed in any follow-on efforts, such as identifying task steps for each collective and subordinate task and the development of performance measures and metrics with which to assess task proficiency.
WPSTC is part of the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center System, a program of the Office of Justice Programs’ National Institute of Justice (NIJ). For more information on the Tactical Operations Mission Analysis Project, contact Andy Mazzara, WPSTC director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on related programs at NIJ, contact NIJ Program Manager Brian Montgomery at Brian.Montgomery@usdoj.gov.