A different perspective for SWAT

Published 7:26 pm Friday, February 24, 2012

I’ve never been arrested.

Aside from a water balloon incident my senior year of high school, I don’t think I’ve ever been close to being arrested.

Early Friday morning, that all changed. Multiple times. Kind of.

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The Demopolis SWAT Team, along with agents from several other departments, have undergone tactical training in our city all week.

Friday morning, the team’s challenge was to search for and secure an armed robbery suspect who was hidden in an office at the old New Era building.

For a few hours, I was the fugitive.

It took them little time to find me and even less time to convince me to give myself up.

How many times have you been watching the television show COPS and see the police storm into a room and scream,” Get on the ground! Get on the ground!”? All the while the gunman stands there like a dummy before eventually complying, or in some cases is flipped to the ground by an officer.

I’ve not got a ton of sympathy for those guys. They’ve earned what’s coming to them. But I do have a better understanding of why, usually, it takes a minute to comply.

Even when you know it’s coming, it catches you off guard.

I was in the room with Chief Tommie Reese and tactical training officer Durwood White. I knew the team was coming. I could hear them. I knew it was practice. I knew I wasn’t going to jail. I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong and I knew all the officers that were looking for me knew all of that, too.

Still, when they bust into that room and yell, “Drop the gun! Show me your hands!”, you freeze up.

Your brain locks up and you stare at these two guys dressed like combat soldiers and think, “Holy cow.”

It was an interesting experience to say the least.

Lost in the process is the “organized chaos” that is the SWAT Team.

Among all the yelling, hustling and hiding was the fact that, under live circumstances, these men and women are in real danger.

The gun that I had was a .22 caliber loaded with one blank cartridge and was only needed to produce the simulation of a single gunshot.

What are the odds that, under live circumstances, the suspect would be as poorly armed as I was?

My guess would be less than none. The next time they confront a robbery suspect under similar conditions, it probably won’t be me and it might not be for training.

I appreciate the opportunity to have played a small role in Friday’s events. It certainly offered a different perspective to an event that you can truly never appreciate until you’ve been part of the process.