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Lt. Robert Parker served with the Omaha (Neb.) PD for 30 years and commanded the Emergency Response Unit. He is responsible for training thousands of law enforcement instructors in NTOA's Patrol Response to Active Shooters courses.

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Officer Jose Medina is an active member of the Piscataway (N.J.) Police Department's SWAT team and runs Awareness Protective Consultants (Team APC) tactical training.

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Call for Comments

What will be SWAT's role in law enforcement in the coming year and beyond?

January 09, 2008  |  by Robert O'Brien - Also by this author

Last year proved to be one of the most challenging and dangerous for law enforcement in recent memory. While no one has a crystal ball to predict what 2008 has in store, this is an opportune time to voice your collective thoughts and predictions for this year—including SWAT's role.

But first, I'd like to make something clear. The world of law enforcement does not revolve around SWAT, nor does law enforcement exist for SWAT's benefit. The reality is SWAT is collateral to, and exists for the benefit of, law enforcement. SWAT was created for situations above and beyond, and too dangerous for police to handle. SWAT's mission is simple and direct: to resolve high-risk situations successfully and safely.

It's logical to expect that 2008 will pick up where 2007 left off, a continuation of one of the most difficult years for police in decades. This leads me to the next logical question: Where does SWAT fit into the overall strategy and tactics of law enforcement? This is a question that has as many answers as there are law enforcement agencies and departments in the U.S. and Canada.

Depending on where you are, and who you talk to, expect to hear a variety of differing answers. Some SWAT teams are rarely ever utilized, while other teams are over-used and/or misused. Some teams receive all the support and backing they need, while other teams don't and exist in name only as paper tigers.

This is where you, the reader of this column, come into the picture. I'd like to hear your thoughts, views, and opinions about SWAT in general, and your agency's team in particular. You can offer your comments via the Website, in the comments area of this SWAT column—including anonymously.

I'd like to hear what you consider the most important challenges and issues facing SWAT and law enforcement. Where, and how, do you see SWAT fitting into the bigger law enforcement picture? And where and how could SWAT best be utilized? What recommendations and suggestions do you have for improving SWAT—both in general and specifically within your own agencies?

I'd like to hear from all of YOU about your thoughts on where, how, when, why SWAT can best be of help to today's law enforcement. And what are your predictions for the future?

I expect your responses to reflect the wide spectrum of policing and SWAT throughout the U.S., Canada, and beyond. Whether or not you're assigned to SWAT, whether you're full or part time, whether you work in a big city, suburb, or rural area, all opinions are welcome.

As we begin another new year in 2008, this is your opportunity to voice your views about SWAT. It is also a golden opportunity for me to hear, and learn, from you—the protectors of society.

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