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July 07, 2000
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B & E for cops

During the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association (TTPOA) Conference, held recently in Houston, the cops ?picked? up a few tricks from the crooks. San Diego SWAT officers Darby Darrow and Mark Willhelm, taught ?Covert Lock Defeating for Law Enforcement? aka ?Zen and the Art of Lock Picking.? Punctuated by Officer Darrow?s magic tricks, the duo instructed officers on how to bypass wrought iron gates, shimmy a padlock, or pick a deadbolt lock. Curious as it may seem, lock picking can be a useful skill for both the patrol and tactical officer. SWAT can enter a building without bashing in a door. Picking the lock is quieter and more covert. For check-on-welfare calls, patrol officers can enter without damaging a residence. The class included techniques on how to pick or rake lock pins as well as how to use handcuffs to pop a gate latch. Not all locks can be picked. The biggest mistake made by rookies is applying too much pressure on the tension wrench. The instructors made sure students mastered basic picking tools before introducing advanced devices such as the pick gun and plug spinner. Other classes featured at the conference included Air Mobile Operations, Bus and Vehicle Assaults, Dignitary Protection, Tactical Handgun and Rifle, How to Win a Gunfight and others. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, author of "On Killing," spoke at the banquet and Dr. Greg Reide, Houston Police Psychological Services, lectured on surviving a shooting. Facilities for the conference were first-rate and included Pasadena P.D.?s new firing range. Over 500 officers attended from 122 agencies. Officer Sandy Wall, Houston SWAT, and the TTPOA produced a well-organized conference with an impressive instructor roster. TTPOA has set a standard for tactical conferences. Barbara A. Schwartz is a free-lance writer. She recently completed a novel about a Houston homicide detective.

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