The end of the year is traditionally when LE agencies submit their annual budget and equipment requests for the following year. The timing turns these annual requests into Christmas wish lists.
In these tough economic times, the last things most LE administrators want to hear are requests for more and/or new equipment from anyone, including SWAT. Asking for more of anything at a time when so many LE agencies are cutting back on everything, including personnel? You've got to be kidding, right?
Now is the exact right time to ask for what you need in order to do the job safely and effectively. Even if you don't have a snowball's chance in hell of getting what you need, if you don't ask, it will never happen.
Administrators aren't mind readers, and can't know your needs - unless you tell them. Hence the wish lists. Case in point, my SWAT unit ultimately got what we requested after submitting our annual "wish list," the same as the rest of the department.
One of our requests was rappelling equipment to replace our aging, worn equipment that we'd begged, borrowed, or paid for ourselves. We submitted the same request for nine straight years without success.
Finally, the tenth year we asked, to our eternal surprise, we were approved for $2,000 to buy new rappelling gear. We felt like "Ralphie" in "A Christmas Story" getting his Red Ryder BB Gun as we finally outfitted our team with "good" rappelling gear.
It also took many years of persistent requests before my SWAT team was finally able to replace our aging, mechanically unsound, original Armored Rescue Vehicle.
In today's bad economic times, you're probably lucky to get anything. So you might think, why even bother submitting your list at all?
First, if you don't ask, you'll never get what you need - even in good economic times. Second, by officially making your request on paper you're documenting both your needs and your reasoning for the items.
The words "safety" and "liability" come immediately to mind. If something happens because of a lack for something you asked for but were denied, at least the liability won't fall on your shoulders.
That said, what would I want on my Christmas SWAT wish list this year?
If my SWAT team didn't have access to an ARV (our own or mutual aid), this would be my top priority. ARVs are life-savers, but also happen to be expensive. So, you might need to be "creative" in finding the necessary funds.
Two reputable ARV manufacturers to consider:
- Lenco manufactures the widely-used, battle proven BEAR and Bearcat ARVs.
- Oshkosh Defense - New to LE ARVs, Oshkosh Defense is a longtime, proven military ARV manufacturer. On October 29, 2009, Oshkosh introduced its new LE TPV (Tactical Protection Vehicle) at the IACP show.
The following are two innovative equipment items costing far less than an ARV:
- Baker Batshield - Invented by retired NYPD ESU member Al Baker, the new, compact version of the Baker Batshield, which I first saw at TREXPO East 2009, only weighs nine pounds and appears ideally suited for SWAT use in tight or confined quarters and linear entries.
- Safariland/Def-Tech Wallbanger - Invented by retired Houston PD SWAT member Sandy Wall, the "Wallbanger" is an ingenious, safer forced entry/NFDD tool. Command initiated (Def-Tec #7001 CI charge), this combines breaching and NFDD capabilities with operators at a safe distance - without the use of explosives. This is a definite advantage, especially for agencies reluctant to use explosive breaching.
The following items are low-cost enough for most individuals to obtain on their own:
DSM Safety Products - Invented by Reno (Nev.) PD SWAT Sgt. Mike Lessman, the DSM (Don't Shoot Me) banner is designed to prevent tragic "blue on blue" shootings. Providing front and back "POLICE" identification, DSM is a must have for plain clothes and off-duty officers. DSM readily identifies officers as the "good guys" and will definitely prevent many needless, tragic "blue on blue" shootings.
QuikClot - Invented by Z-Medica, this hemostatic agent emergency dressing has saved numerous lives of American military personnel in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. QuikClot is a literal life-saver that every LE officer needs to carry at all times - in pouches or even pockets. Simply stated, QuikClot controls bleeding - right here, right now - and comes in a variety of sizes and applications for on- and off-duty use.
Ballistic Eyewear - The eyes are probably the most overlooked, vulnerable area of any officer's body. The need for effective eye protection in LE has never been greater than today. We only have two eyes, and if anything happens to them it's very likely a career ender - especially for street and SWAT officers.
The following three ballistic eyewear manufacturers offer a wide variety of quality ballistic eyewear with capabilities and designs, for virtually every LE need (including looking "cool"):
Regardless of what you put on your SWAT Christmas wish list, make sure it's not only something that's needed, but essential to do your job of protecting the public more efficiently and safely.
What LE administrators need to remember is that even during bad economic times society's protectors also need to be protected. But it's your duty to tell them.
Have a Merry - and safe - Christmas!