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7 vital lessons for every officer

Culled from a series of dramatic SWAT debriefs, these truths are worthy of reinforcement at roll call or posting on the squad room bulletin board

A dramatic series of dicey SWAT call-outs — ranging from a drunken military vet brandishing a live hand grenade in his front yard to a barricaded felon who coldly wrapped his shirt around a baby and thrust the infant into view to test if police would shoot — were critiqued in detail recently at the annual conference of the Assn. of SWAT Personnel-Wisconsin.

The debriefings were designed to sharpen the skills of team leaders, snipers, and tactical operators. But embedded in discussions of their specialized arcanery — like the challenges of shooting through glass and the tactics for manhunting at night with infrared gear — were vital lessons any officer should remember.

Here are seven short excerpts culled from extensive reconstructions of complex incidents from a variety of locales. Inherent in each is a life-on-the-line street truth worthy of roll call reinforcement, regardless of your assignment.

“No critical incident is ever perfect,” observed presenter Randy Winn, a sergeant with the Sacramento County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Dept. “A perfect operation is like a unicorn: Everyone knows what one looks like but no one has ever seen one.”

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