Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can't win for losing.

So, a recent SWAT callout in New Hamster drew some derision when it was revealed that the SWAT team in question had been in a four-hour standoff with a dead guy.

And I laughed, too, until I thought about it for another second or two...

They didn't shoot the woman they "made contact with" on arrival. They didn't shoot any dogs. They didn't shoot each other. No buildings got burned down.

Short of them actually not answering the call and disbanding the police department, what less would you want them to do?
"There's a crazy guy in there with a gun."

"Okay, ma'am. We'll sit out here and make sure he doesn't come out and hurt anybody."
I mean, from my wookie-suited standpoint, isn't this practically an ideal outcome?

Maybe they could go back in time to '92 and '93 and offer the feds some tips...


Bob said...

And they went to the right house?

Tam said...

See? Practically a textbook operation from where I'm sitting.

Bram said...

I'm guessing that the NH SWAT is a part-time team made up of volunteers from local departments. Most are probably military vets and common sense cops.

Seems like these kinds of teams have less common sense trained out of them than the full-timers.

mikee said...

Here in Round Rock, TX, a suburb city outside Austin, I live in an upscale neighborhood. Back in 2001 a neighbor on my street lost his job and faced the loss of his home, along with having marriage problems. In a drunken rage he threatened his wife with a handgun. She ran out of the home and called police. The SWAT team (and fire & ambulance) arrived, sealed off the street, evacuated neighbors, and tried to contact the husband, who was still in the house.

Same outcome - after many hours of no contact they finally started peeking into windows, and saw him dead in the kitchen from a self-inflicted wound.

And my town, and county, is renowned locally for its law-and-order, lock-em-up justice system and the cops who won't put up with any of the crap Austin cops are expected to take from the locals and college students.

So perhaps the stories of police raids gone awry are so notable because they don't represent the ideal behavior most departments strive to achieve.

the pawnbroker said...

Of course now, since regular civvie zombie weapons just won't do, they will have to address the burning question:

What black/tactical/special ops SWAT gun/gear for dead guys?

Tam said...


If I were expected to go through a door where somebody might shoot at me and shit might be on fire, you're damn skippy I'd be wearing a nomex onesie and a flak vest, too. (...and flak trousers, and flak mittens, and a flak bag to stick my head in, to borrow a line from P.J.)

Can I get a list of approved "non-tactical" colors in which this apparel should be purchased? ;)

elmo iscariot said...

I was just about to say that this little town doesn't need a SWAT team in the first place...

But on deciding that it's probably a good idea to read the article before bitching about it, I found this:

After [hearing two gunshots], "due to safety concerns," a state police tactical team of more than a dozen officers was called in, he said.

Town cops respond, decide they have time to call the state for backup, whereupon a small specialist group is dispatched that even has the dignity not to refer to themselves by a melodramatic acronym...

Yeah. That's pretty much the way these things should go down.

Tam said...


I guarantee you that the staties have an acronym: SWAT, SRT, SOE, something like that.

elmo iscariot said...

Ah, of course they do.

That'll learn me, mistaking the reporter's voice for the state's.

Tam said...

Well, I guess they gotta call 'em something and, like it or not, Darryl Gates' boneheaded acronym has lodged itself rather thoroughly in the public vocabulary.

I'm actually less annoyed by it than I am by some of the acronymical and abbreviationary contortions gone through to avoid using it. At least SWAT is monosyllabic and hard to misunderstand over the phone or radio...

elmo iscariot said...

It's probably just me getting all crotchety over excessive SWAT proliferation and their seemingly increasing Keystonian mallninjitude, et cetera, et cetera.

I idly prefer the idea of just calling them specially equipped officers, but like you say, I don't have to shout that over a radio.

Weer'd Beard said...

Also sounds like the "Man With a Gun" was actually a man...with a gun, rather than a hipster with an umbrella.

Yeah I'm having a hard time getting excited about it all.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like they did good, overall. Sort of the Hippocratic oath of police work - "Don't make the situation 10 times worse."

Now, the real question, considering they're from 'Massad Ayoob Land' were they wearing porn-staches or were they all bald?

Bubblehead Les. said...

Also, keep in mind that New Hamster has pretty Liberal Laws when it comes to Carrying Firearms, so the Police up there tend to be a little more cautious due to the fact that they are surrounded by Armed Citizens. Thus they aren't as prone to Panic like, oh, I don't know, the Canton, Ohio P.D.

Tam said...

Yeah, I think Marko said his permit cost him, like, five bucks or something.

DJ said...

They followed a good rule: It's better to get it right than to get it right now."

Weer'd Beard said...

The permit costs $10 in NH for Residents (Asshole Lefty Gov jacked the non-rez from $20 to $100...fuck him, I have a Florida Card!)

But Marko said when he reached for his wallet at the station the Cheif said "don't bother".

So $0 That's about right.

An Ordinary American said...


I remember the days when regular blue suits used to handle things like this and without all the black-pajama-ed, black-gun ninjas running around.

But then came Ruby Ridge, and then Waco. . .

It's a line of work I do not miss one bit.

Only question I have is I wonder what the negotiator feels like having negotiated with a dead man?


Crucis said...

At the the NH guys were better than the LA ones recently...where they invaded a house, grabbed a woman and put her in a cell, fired tear gas into the house, tearing into walls and doing massive damage, all after the woman invited them in to look for a man who wasn't there. Instead of investigating the house, they grabbed the woman after she invited them in and set up a barricade.

On top of all that they refuse to pay or repair all the damage they did.

For a man who was never there.

Firehand said...

Probably "So do we need to put out specs for a dead-suspect translator? Or a corpse locator?"

There's a balance between "We can take time to talk" and "We need to act NOW!"; sounds like they understand that.

Kevin said...

Phoenix PD's swat team has a very low key name, the Special Assignments Unit.

Bubblehead Les. said...

OMG! It just hit me! Were they dealing with a Dead Man or was it...... a ZOMBIE!?

John said...

Bob's comment (question, actually) is full of win.

Standard Mischief said...

>What black/tactical/special ops SWAT gun/gear for dead guys?

Huh? Surely you are jesting? Obviously what every small town needs is a 3 million dollar remote-controlled bomb disposal robot.

I mean, what else are you going to do with that homeland security money? Buy an air-conditioned trash truck?

lelnet said...

There's probably something they could have done better. And I'm sure the negotiator is never going to hear the end of the ribbing from other cops in bars and such. But given a choice between a situation like this where some time and attention get wasted but no innocent lives are lost and no significant property damage occurs, and the more typical SWAT response...well, as a citizen I'll take this without hesitation.

Kudos also to NH for putting SWAT in the _state_ police as a resource to be lent out to locals as-needed, rather than tarting up every town, city, and county LEO with its very own crew of wannabe ninjas who suddenly feel the need to justify their paramilitary toys by turning routine policework into combat.

WilhelmDurand said...

I wouldn't want them to do less. However, there is a good deal more they could have done with my blessing.

Just because the current government is a bunch of incompetent buffoons, does not mean that it's doomed to always be that way. When a large agency goes after a criminal and ends up burning down buildings and asphyxiating children, that's a gross miscarriage of justice. But it's foolish to then say "Ergo, we should disband all law enforcement agencies!" Sort of like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, don't you think?

The NH SWAT could have done a number of other things, especially since they were called in specifically to interfere. These proactive tasks needn't include murdering large amounts of innocent children.

Just My 2¢ said...

I like the concept of minimalist tactical response. I know that it's contrary to the stated goal of "overwhelming superiority", but to paraphrase George Carlin: By the process of elimination, there is a world's worst SWAT team... and they're on a call right now.

Anonymous said...

The local town/city of 50K has a team and seems to break them out at the drop of a hat to justify the cost.

The surrounding county of 50 K sheriff decided he couldn't justify the cost and would just wait for the KSP teams to arrive, a smart move in my opinion.

Last month several counties signed mutual assitance agreements to send deputies or officers to hold the perimeter till the KSP could arrive when needed. I thought that was a pretty smart move till I saw they had a mini SWAT challenge tryout for the Sit and Wait team.
I predict major mission creep with this bunch.


Sport Pilot said...

Most State Police or Highway Patrol Agencies have EOD and specialized and trained response teams, some more than one for a more regional response. Larger FBI Offices have the same, over and above their HRT. The most hazardous and complex critical incidents encountered by law enforcement when handled correctly, with proper training and equipment as well as policy look boring to onlookers.
Of course any instances where innocents are injured or affected are terrible and seized upon by the media. Any hint of negligence, duplicity or obstruction of either investigation or coverage creates criticism and anger. LEA cannot always provide information to the media on ongoing investigations or critical incident reviews until much later.
The media and public make much of this and will therefor create information releases from questionable sources. Over time these incorrect “attention getting” fabrications become folk history and people believe them to be unquestionably true, even when the final investigative reports are released. It is what it is, people will question authority and authority will be constrained in response.

the pawnbroker said...

"...a textbook operation..."

Doubt it. Based on recent events, current by-the-book ops must call for doing whatever is required to justify the budget. Those NH guys will probably get kicked out of the Ninja League for their lack of um, overkill as it were.

"Can I get a list of approved "non-tactical" colors in which this apparel should be purchased? ;)"

Doesn't matter because like you "...from where I'm sitting...", the comfort of my own couch is about as close to dynamic entry as I plan to get...kind of a cross between "yellow" and "no f'n way!"...

Matt G said...

AOA said: "I remember the days when regular blue suits used to handle things like this and without all the black-pajama-ed, black-gun ninjas running around."

Part of me agrees with you (I'm a generalist cop, myself), but I'll be perfectly honest: I practice firearms use more than most cops, and think about tactics as much as most street cops, and I'll tell you: when it's time to go in and rescue a hostage, I want the guys who practice entries together on a regular basis doing it. I want them thinking about whether or not to shoot, rather than thinking about their dance steps. It's harder than it looks, and it's a very, very specialized portion of police work. I've always said that in an active shooter situation, we should all be ready to go in immediately and fast and hard, but if there's time to assemble the tactics specialists, then do it.

As for black ninja crap? I don't care when it's on the tac guys. It's when the street cops try to get all tac'ed out on their beat that my eyes go to full eye-roll.

Anonymous said...

@Sport Pilot:

"...people will question authority and authority will be constrained in response."

That would be the point of the derision and the exercise, yes.

As to "...incorrect “attention getting” fabrications..."

Have a read on the subject at Balko's place and get back to us on your altered perceptions.

BGMiller said...

New Hamster...
Tactical team...

I need to watch Cat Shit 1 again.


WV: duper - Nah, too easy.

Kristophr said...


New Hampster has a Sisters of Eve mission agent?

Sport Pilot said...

Anon 4:39-faceless one. The media tells what it want's to tell and doesn't care if they're wrong. Once they've broadcast it often enough it become's accepted i.e. the big lie. LEA quite often are forbidden to speak.
I suspect that I have a far more open minded perception of current media, LE, Gov't and the Judicial System then you.

Tam said...

Wilhelm Durand,

"The NH SWAT could have done a number of other things, especially since they were called in specifically to interfere. "

I don't think the government has any business interfering with someone who wants to suck-start a shotgun, so long as said someone has the common decency to not drag anybody else into their dramatic exit scene.

WilhelmDurand said...

Then surely you also do not think the government has any business protecting you from hordes of militant Chinese.

The relationship that our government has been abusing these past 235 years has not been one of equals. They love to pretend that it has been, but it is not possible for a state that possesses combat aircraft armored vehicles, and thermonuclear devices to truly have an equal relationship with its citizens, no matter how good those citizens might be with an AR-15.

The reality which no one wants to acknowledge is that the government provides its people with life and protection from other powerful entities who also possess sophisticated weapons against which an infantry rifle is no match. Because of this, it very much is in the business of keeping its people alive, and it is its duty as caretaker (Cue Tam's Nanny-State-Dar going off... Now) to protect its citizens as it sees fit. Why? Well, because it said so. It has all the hydrogen bombs and main battle tanks, after all.

Tam said...

Wilhelm Durand,

Are you familiar with the phrase "Clean Up The World Tomorrow, Just Do Your Room Today"?

Nylarthotep said...

suck-start a shotgun

I don't know where you get those, but I've started to write them down. Cracks me right up.

New HAMPSHIRE Please. Give us a little dignity. We have enough issues living this close to Massachusetts.

Last I heard the state legislature was considering overturning the governor's veto on dropping the concealed carry permit requirement. I'm staying hopeful. Maybe that will help Weer'd Beard's licensing conundrum.

Josh Kruschke said...

Hmmm.... you seem to be suggesting that we give them a pass because they don't have x-ray vision and psychic powers.

Hmmmm.... I'll have to think about this.

Anonymous said...

Sport Pilot,

Your reckless judgements and funny mall-cop sooper-seekritism aside, you have said incidents of inept and deadly gov-sponsored home invasions are merely attention getting fabrications and folk history.

His is by no means the only source of accounts of these cases (VFTP has discussed quite a few), but Radney Balko has conveniently recorded many, complete with cites and sources. Would you care to point out which of them your insider status attributes as fabrications?


Kristophr said...

Wilhelm: How well are those H-Bombs and tanks working out in Afghanistan right now?

A bunch of intractable assholes with rifles can bring a government to its knees in damned hurry, especially if they are sitting on the same cities you are getting revenue and supplies from.

Of course, if those intractable assholes are smart, they will use their intractability in the political arena first, and get what they want without firing a shot.

The government is not our fucking master, Wilhelm. That person ain't been born yet.

It is a social construct that we created and we can either support or withdraw support as we require.

WilhelmDurand said...

That is precisely why I am not an activist, as so many conservatives, libertarians, and liberals are (I was one, once).

My response to bad governance only goes as far as my personal welfare goes. I keep a rifle near my bed, because I do not trust law enforcement to do their job. I make tentative plans to emigrate on short notice if greater collapse occurs, that sort of thing.

However, what you are suggesting is that an agency of people, who are beholden to a higher authority which possesses, even though it does not recognize that fact, a number of serfs, neglect those serfs based on what? Apathy? The chance that they might do something wrong?

elmo iscariot said...

The reality which no one wants to acknowledge is that the government provides its people with life and protection from other powerful entities who also possess sophisticated weapons against which an infantry rifle is no match. Because of this, it very much is in the business of keeping its people alive, and it is its duty as caretaker (Cue Tam's Nanny-State-Dar going off... Now) to protect its citizens as it sees fit. Why? Well, because it said so.

Ha! :D

Saying that the government owns its people is the libertarian blog equivalent of comparing your opponent to Hitler, innit?

WD, if you really want to live out an infantilism fantasy, I know some extraordinary ladies who'll do that for you much cheaper than our government does it.

Tam said...

You shut up! He's seen the Truth and you're just a sheeple!

Or something like that.

Josh Kruschke said...

Tam -

Now you've gone and made me hungry, and the Greek Deli doesn't open till 11am.


staghounds said...

Often I have found myself listening to a basically anti-sheepdog-violence person mock a citizen or police officer for not using violence when the violence would have been legal.

When They finish laughing at the police officer or store clerk who did not shoot. I say "But I thought you didn't like it when people got shot?"

One reason you impress me is that you will dare to accept information and think thoughts that do not exactly match your current opinions.

Sport Pilot said...

Anon: Clearly you are a baiter. You’re also obvious as well. I’ve dealt professionally with a lot of stringer’s.

WilhelmDurand said...

Oh dear me! I didn't realize that by understanding the very real power dynamics in this country, which for some retarded reason virtually no one wants to acknowledge out loud, I was in fact expressing a desire to suckle at Mommy's teat once more! What a Freudian analysis!

They have F-22s. They have M1A2 Abrams. They have Trident ICBMs. They have hundreds of thousands of trained combat soldiers who are well coordinated and disciplined.

I have an AR-15, and a few thousand rounds for it.

No, I do not at all think this is a fantasy. This is being realistic. I had similar views even when I DID wave the Gadsden flag around.

Am I entitled to anything? No, I am not. The government does with me as they see fit, for the aforementioned reasons. I pay taxes that I do not want to pay. I obey traffic laws that I do not always want to obey. I greatly inhibit myself at the government's behest. If I want to kill myself, as the subject in question did, it is the government's right to stop me, because that's how it is. They have the men and materiel, I do not. I can challenge them once I've reached a similar level of power, but no sooner.

Until them, I am their serf, and no amount of wishing on my part or theirs will reality any different. Would that I were King! I'd balance the budget, at least!

Kristophr said...

Your abject surrender to authority is noted, Wilhelm.

May your chains rest lightly on you.

Anonymous said...

Sport Pilot,

"I've dealt professionally..."

Heh! Dude, you're a hoot.

And, apparently, a poser.

Josh Kruschke said...

Wilhelm -

Question: Do you know how many armed ex-military there are in the US?

You also seem to not understand our millitary. With out a direct act of Congress any military action ordered in the US would be unlawful and would not need to be followed. Even with an act of Congress, I feel very few would take up arms against the citizenry, most of the others would stop them.

If a civil war ever breaks out sit on the side lines as you would only get in the way... It's for your own safety.

Man we have raised a generation of pussies.


elmo iscariot said...

Josh, there's no need to continue this discussion. The man's right: we're kidding ourselves if we think we can present a meaningful resistance to the government if push comes to shove. The technological supremacy of the US Armed Forces makes civilian resistance with small arms and improvised weapons utterly futile.

That's why we cruised to such early and complete victories in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Josh Kruschke said...

Complete Victory.... Afghanistan ..... what?

So, elmo, you figuring on wide suport and buy in by our military for what ever Governmemt over reach happens?

You do know what oath they take and what it's to.


elmo iscariot said...

You just fell in the sarchasm, buddy. ;)

elmo iscariot said...

It does make for an interesting discussion, though.

Based on how real people really react in real life in real hierarchies, I think a hell of a lot of US soldiers would fire on US civilians when ordered to. That's nothing against the troops; it's just how people work. How many went that way would have a lot to do with the quality of their officers, not of the troops themselves.

The question isn't whether Congress could successfully order the use of force against US civilians, but how long morale and obedience would survive in an ongoing war against American resistors. Personally, I think it would break down pretty quickly, but I've often been accused of being too optimistic.

Josh Kruschke said...

elmo you millitary?

One of the first things I remember being taught is the difference between a lawful and unlawful order.

Sport Pilot said...

Anon: the correct phrase for you to use the next time you wish to taunt is wannabe. SMP and prudence aside think whatever you like.

Montie said...

Damn, I got here late to the party (been busy) but I couldn't resist going over and commenting:

"Gee Bear, last time I checked, none of my guy's cars had robots in the trunk awaiting instantaneous use. The key words in the story were that they called out the "STATE" Police SWAT Team. The local PD probably just held the perimeter until they arrived. It might have taken 4 hours to round up the robot and get it to the scene from whatever part of the state it was located in.

As my previous department's "hostage negotiator", I have stood outside a scene AFTER we got all the hostages out and tried to talk out the armed individual for 7 hours. He had fired a number of shots out the windows at the beginning of the incident, but stopped once I got him to talk. At one point during that 7 hour period we heard a muffled shot from inside the residence and he stopped talking. I tried to re-establish contact for an hour and a half before he re-engaged. I later found out that he had done that so we would THINK he shot himself and he could ambush our entry team. After an hour and a half he gave up on that plan.

I got him out without having to kill him, none of the hostages he originally had at the start of what was a 12 hour ordeal was injured and no cops or bystanders were hurt.

So I should only have collected overtime if I were shot? Actually, I talked my way into the house with another detective and we eventually physically overpowered the suspect in a moment when he was distracted and before he could swing his shotgun around and fire on us. Does that qualify as dangerous enough for the O.T. I got? Then again, since its all just part of the job, maybe I should return the "Medal of Valor" I received out of the incident.

If the guy was actually shooting people, or if the cops had knowledge that he was going to do so, then yes, they should have gone in immediately, no standing around holding the perimeter in a case like that, otherwise time is on the side of the cops in most cases. So what's the better outcome? It sucks that the guy shot himself and died. Better if the cops had gone in before the shots and possibly been forced to do the suicide by cop thing? Or, maybe if they went in a little quicker AFTER the shot they (a)might or might not have saved him; (b)might have had less of a mess to clean up or (c)had to get shot or shoot him because he did what the guy in my incident did to make them THINK he shot himself."

Tam, as usual you are right (at least to my way of thinking).

Nylarthotep, Aww, that's an old one. I heard it from another cop right after I started in the cop biz in '85 (I think it was at the scene of one or another of a run (3) of shotgun suicides we had to work). But Tam does have a knack for using such phrases in just the right context.

Anonymous said...


Have a good read of Montie's story to see how about 99.9% of "situations" should and could be resolved.

Instead, leo agencies large and small have become addicted to funding which often is earmarked and must be justified. And so hundreds of ersatz mini-militaries of varying mission and training are often deployed to deal with things that would be better handled by an experienced negotiator and patience.

The effects of that; the pressure to acquire and then utilize equipment and tactics, has resulted in myriad cases of overzealousness, ineptitude, and sometimes outright and utter disregard for the rights of individual citizens. There are many tragic outcomes, and arguably worse is the coverup that often ensues.

You have said these documented cases are fabrications and tossed around insults when asked for substantiation, and even comically employed the old "I could tell ya but then I'd have to kill ya" line, a perennial favorite of posers (yes, it's the correct label; posers, or poseurs if you prefer, are much different than wannabes...get a vocabulary man), because it avoids having to provide proof and evidence of one's reckless statements.

But it's a pretty bright group around here, and anyone making claims, stating facts, or simply offering his opinion, can expect to be called out. You have been, and you have not comported yourself far.

So, do you care to start over, restating your specific claims from your earlier comments, and offering substantiation or proof of any kind that these abuses of paramilitary police power do not occur and are the product of a clandestine anti-law enforcement alliance between media hypesters and...what, cartels, hippies, anarchists?

Or it could be that there are those, libertarianish by nature and alarmed by current trends, who prefer their policing policies be more in the line of peacekeeping, patience, discretion, and common sense than in the burgeoning and slippery-sloped staging of paramilitary ninja raids with questionable cause and little reason.

But anti-cop? Hardly. Some of my longest acquaintances are le. We grew up together, me in business from struggling entrepreneur to moderate success to retirement, and they from beat to bars to stars and then retirement from a dangerous, stressful, and often thankless job. And to a man they are glad to be done; they do not like what their business has become.

And neither do I.

(Sorry Tam, but it's an old thread and I thought you might not mind the diatribe.)

Justthisguy said...

Some thoughts on suicide: I am one of the most consistently morose and depressed people I have ever met, but it has never ocurred to me to kill myself. Among other reasons, I want to stick around and see what happens.

Now, some of the people in my Mom's side of the family seem to have thought of killing themselves as the first resort, not the last. I will give Unca Wilson a pass for using the Hemingway Method, as working for Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea as an infantryman definitely messed with his mind.

The two cousins I lost to suicide, whom I loved? I have suffered, and continue to suffer, worse problems than they ever had, and it has never occurred to me to off myself.

There's no accounting for human behavior, sometimes.