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Fatigued Calif. Officer Dies After SWAT Training

July 31, 2011  | 

Photo: Buena Park PD.

Buena Park (Calif.) Police Officer Daniel Ackerman's tenure on his agency's part-time SWAT team was cut short, following his death after a physically grueling day of training.

Ackerman, 31, became disoriented and nonresponsive after completing the department's physical fitness qualification (PFQ) training and was taken to the hospital Friday. He died early Saturday.

Officer Ackerman joined the department in 2005 after serving as a reserve officer beginning in 2001.

Officer Ackerman has been a member of the tactical team for almost a year, and had previously completed the 10-hour twice-yearly course. The department initially modeled its tactical training on the Army. In recent years, the physical test was reconfigured and modeled on the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department's tactical training, Cpl. Andy Luong tells POLICE Magazine.

To join or stay on Buena Park PD's tactical team, officers must complete the qualification course in 7 minutes, 41 seconds. They must complete the course twice, back to back. The obstacle course starts with a quarter-mile run, then consists of walls, tunnels, monkey bars, a window entry and exit, a 150-pound weight drag, a 6-foot wall, 10-foot chain-link fence and a finishing quarter-mile run.

The agency doesn't require an additional medical screening for officers to join SWAT beyond the agency's routine physical for all officers. However, the agency's volunteer emergency doctor was at the training, which occurred in the morning hours. The course as currently constituted is "a mainstay" that isn't expected to change, said Cpl. Luong.

"It's the best one we've seen that tests our officers on endurance and strength," Cpl. Luong said. "We're going to reexamine what we do. It looks at this point that it's a tragic anomaly."

Comments (3)

Displaying 1 - 3 of 3

Jason Ardmore @ 8/1/2011 6:08 PM

"No medical screening?" Before such strenuous stuff including 10-hour days in the Southern California summer heat? Who dreamed up that idiocy?

notmeofficer @ 8/1/2011 9:35 PM

I have run SEB's course many times... it will get your attention IF you are not regularly staying in shape.... Im not sure what "10 hour" course they were referring to was... We would normally start the day with this course... then other aspects of SWAT far as it being hot.. yes. ... it gets hot in a concrete jungle.. acclimate and hydrate and be smart...

We must train hard to be in top physical condition... and test ourselves through realistic PT courses... this isnt patrol.. which in and of itself is demanding.. this is about being physically ready for SWAT work

My condolences to the family of this fallen officer.. I hope he was pursuing his dreams

Dennis Salb @ 8/2/2011 7:10 AM

This is such a tragedy. I too have run SEB's obstacle course and find hard to imagine that it alone was the cause of Officer Ackerman's death. I suspect that he was already experiencing heat exhaustion when he started it. My condolences to his family and friends. I pray that lessons will be learned out of this so that it never happens again.

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