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Bob Parker

Bob Parker

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.

Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

Jose Medina

Jose Medina

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.

Fighting for Survival In Harsh Economic Times

Make your tactical team an essential service to your agency.

October 17, 2011  |  by Robert O'Brien - Also by this author

The lingering bad economy continued to cause havoc on American law enforcement. Many law enforcement agencies have been forced to downsize dramatically, including laying off officers in unprecedented numbers. So-called "non-essential" services are being eliminated. Salaries and benefits, including pensions, are increasingly under attack. Several police departments have actually been forced to "go out of business."

The federal government, via the 2011 COPS grants, awarded $243 million to 238 eagerly awaiting local, state, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies in late September.

This $243 million is earmarked to hire, rehire, or retain 1,021 full-time officers and pay their entry salaries and benefits for three years. This is good news for the recipients, and bad news for those not receiving grants. The feds awarded only a fraction of what was requested, as the following numbers show:

  • 2,712 agencies applied for COPS grants; 238 were awarded.
  • 8,999 officer positions were requested; 1,021 positions were awarded.
  • $2.07 billion was requested; $243 million was awarded.

While $243 million for 1,021 new officers makes for a good start, it's only a start. It's only a fraction of what American law enforcement needs. And while there may be light at the end of the (economic) tunnel, it's a faint light. There are many disappointed agencies, departments, administrators, and personnel wondering about the next step.

You may wonder what this has to do with SWAT. Directly? Nothing. Indirectly? It falls under the heading of the "do more with less" philosophy. everyone must take a hit.

Increasingly, law enforcement administrators are being forced to make drastic rock-and-a-hard-place decisions, cutting all but the barest essentials to the bone. This is where SWAT comes in. Many departments simply can't afford to fund their own SWAT teams. The result is a growing number of SWAT teams across America that have been forced to merge into multi-agency teams. Many teams, including long established teams, are increasingly being downsized in personnel, equipment, and training. The once-rare, mutual-aid support among SWAT teams is now a necessity.

What should SWAT do to help their cause? For starters, be professionals.  Be your agency's indispensable, go-to, tactical specialists. Do what you do best, and do it every time. SWAT is best at handling high-risk, dangerous assignments. Work with, not separate from, your department's officers. Gain your entire agency's respect from top to bottom. This goes for everyone on your team, because everyone is a representative of your team.

SWAT commanders and team leaders need to figure out how, when, where your team can best support your agency. You're looking for that "just right" fit into your department's overall scheme. It's far better to be "too busy" than "not busy." Out of sight means out of mind. And this could very likely result in your team's downsizing, or perhaps its demise.

The bottom line is the more useful your team is to your agency, the less inclined anyone will be to delete it from the organizational structure. Especially in these uncertain times, it's always wise to try to anticipate the future.

Remember, law enforcement administrators are being increasingly forced to make drastic cuts, possibly including your team. The last thing you want to do is to do, or not do, something to make that decision easy.

From its inception in the 1960s, SWAT has continually faced challenges about its necessity. In the early years, SWAT was often viewed as a "nice to have," rather than a "must have." Given SWAT's sterling track record over its more-than-40-year history, I would hope every SWAT team has attained "must have" status within their agencies.

If not, it's not too late to do something about it starting right now. The choice is yours.

Related: Feds Fund Hiring of 1,000 Local Officers

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

DEADMAN @ 10/18/2011 6:59 PM

You live in your communities,you vote there,vote for different administrations.Some cities are taking the federal grants and laying officers off after the academy,they're holding up recalling police and fire even though there are positions available because they want inflated numbers on their grant requests to the federal governments,time to vote them out.They're buying programs and building new facilities ,bike trails,memorials to useless politicians,they're donating money to campaign contributors.WAKE UP!!!

TimFromLA @ 10/18/2011 9:01 PM
Although the American Jobs Act as an omnibus bill has failed to pass Congress, the White House has pledged to try to get the legislation through Congress in pieces.
Some of the major components of the $447 billion act include a 50 percent cut in the payroll tax, infrastructure projects, an extension of unemployment benefits, and pay for police, firefighters and teachers.

Republicans have opposed the tax increases and brought forth a plan of their own on Thursday.
House Speaker John Boehner told Obama that Republicans are willing to address new transportation and infrastructure spending but “in a fiscally responsible way,” during a phone call on Thursday.
The GOP bill is called the “Jobs Through Growth Act” and doesn't include a single item in President Obama's jobs legislation, which Senate Republicans killed in a Tuesday night vote.
“They believe that government and spending creates jobs,” said Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “We believe business and growth creates jobs.”

Businesses don't create jobs. Spending does. When the police are paid, the city/county is protected, people work and then spend money and the economy gets stronger, companies hire and the cycle continues. But spending or tax breaks don't work, so long as people feel protected. See the cycle? As deadman says: WAKE UP PEOPLE! And I say TAX THE CORPORATIONS AND WEALTHY AND PAY OUR LEOs!

Rick @ 10/19/2011 8:41 AM

Tim From LA is at it again and obviously hasn't dealt with the wealthy. I work for an exclusive country club where the world's wealthy live. When they are taxed, they hide their money and spend less. When they get tax breaks, they donate their money to build hospitals, museums, universities and other public buildings/places. When they are taxed more, they cut back on services; that causes companies to lose money and then lay off employees, thereby adding to the problem. Reagonomics worked, Bush's tax breaks and tax refunds worked. By the way, I still haven't met a liberal that sent their tax refund back to the government or refused a tax break.

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