Keys to ensuring safety during training

Research from OpTac International shows that from 2004-2008, 71 percent of SWAT officer deaths occurred in training or from friendly fire.


Learning from the mistakes of the past will make us all safer during SWAT operations in the future. OpTac International recently released research on deaths among SWAT operators while on SWAT operations and during training accidents.

Their research found that from 2004-2008, 71 percent of SWAT officer deaths occurred in training or from friendly fire. During that period, 12 SWAT operators died while training or when accidentally shot by another SWAT operator. For that same period, five SWAT operators died on SWAT operations as a result of a suspect fatally shooting the operator.

Two significant points stand out about those two figures. The first is that SWAT cops are “locked on” when doing live SWAT operations — for all the thousands of SWAT operations that are conducted in this country every year, only five SWAT cops in that four year span died at the hands of their adversary(s). Of those five who made ultimate sacrifice, two may have been prevented with the use of ballistic armor.

However, the second point is that we are needlessly killing ourselves in training or by friendly fire, more than on live SWAT operations. The number of officers killed in training and by friendly fire is more than double than in live SWAT operations. That is unacceptable, and as Warriors we owe it to each other to reduce the number of training and friendly fire deaths.

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