One of the biggest attractions at TREXPO East is always the classroom seminars, and this year's conference, held Aug. 18-20 in Chantilly, Va., was no exception. Officers from throughout Northern Virginia and the D.C. Metro area were drawn to the Dulles Expo Center to learn the latest information about SWAT policies and procedures, anti-terror intelligence, and defensive tactics.
As always, the attendees really threw themselves into the defensive tactics programs. On Monday, martial artist and retired Austin (Texas) detective and SWAT officer Louis Marquez led a five-hour close-quarter combat program. The intense course taught officers a variety of measures to defend themselves from resisting and attacking suspects.
On Tuesday, Fox Valley Technical College instructors Gary T. Klugiewicz and Dave Young ran a program that taught officers how to transition from deadly force to forearm and knee strikes when clearing a room. Klugiewicz, a retired Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department captain, showed the class methods for keeping a duty pistol ready and safe when going hands on with resisting suspects.
In addition to the hands-on programs, there were ample opportunities for officers to learn about new techniques and procedures in the classroom. The National Tactical Officers Association offered a four-seminar counter-terrorism track, and the Virginia Tactical Officers Association sponsored an eight-seminar track that covered topics ranging from building clearing to law enforcement maritime operations.
One very timely seminar at TREXPO East was Derrick Bartlett's "Police Counter-Sniper Operations." The well-attended program was held as West Virginia was plagued by a series of sniper killings. Bartlett, a Ft. Lauderdale SWAT sniper, discussed the history of the criminal sniper in America, the profile of criminal snipers, and the difficulty that police agencies face when attempting to solve these crimes and end the killing.
Another well-attended program at TREXPO East was Alan Brosnan's seminar on explosive breaching. Brosnan, a SWAT breacher with the DeSoto County (Miss.) Sheriff's Department and a former member of the New Zealand Army's Special Air Service, walked the class through the types of explosives and techniques used for gaining safe entry into barricaded buildings without causing injury to the occupants or undue structural damage. In addition, Brosnan's presentation included information that can be used to justify an explosive breaching program to command and to civilian commissions and councils.
As TREXPO's seminars were in session, a British think tank released a report that said it was likely that the United States would soon suffer another terrorist attack. The officers who attended Mayer Nudell's seminar called "Threat Assessment: Before it Hits the Fan," were already aware of this grim reality. Nudell, an internationally renowned security specialist, explained how terrorists choose their targets, the difference between soft targets and hard targets, and ways to foil kidnapping attempts on VIPs. The primary message of the program was that officers and security personnel should never think that the enemy isn't smart and resourceful.
"We tend to overestimate our capabilities and underestimate the capabilities of our adversaries," Nudell said. "Nobody ever lost a war by overestimating the enemy."