POLICE Magazine

AUG 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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A 38 POLICE AUGUST 2018 merica's law enforcement special weapons and tactics units are evolving into far more efficient, flexible, and multifaceted response teams. is is an evolution that began decades ago, and it has been largely influenced by an increase in mass casualty attacks, including active shoot- er incidents. It's also been driven by lessons learned by military personnel and especially special operations teams who have served in the Global War on Terror. e Richland County (SC) Sheriff's Department's Special Response Team (SRT) is a prime example of a contemporary tactical law enforcement team that is adapting to meet new challenges and improve its performance. Nowhere is this adaptation more evi- dent than in the current criteria used to select mem- bers of the team. Richland County Sheriff's officials say the days when tactical law enforcement team candidates were chosen based primarily on their athleticism, endurance, and marksmanship are now gone. ose PHOTO: W. THOMAS SMITH JR. The Evolution of SWAT Operator Selection THE SWAT CANDIDATE ASSESSMENT PROCESS AT A SOUTH CAROLINA AGENCY SHOWS HOW TACTICAL TEAMS ARE LOOKING FOR MORE THAN JUST EXTREME ATHLETES AND GREAT SHOTS. W. Thomas Smith Jr. skills and attributes are still vital and the standards for making the team are still exacting, as they should be for any modern special tactics operator. But for Richland County's SRT team, physical fitness and firearms skills are fundamentals that in some ways take a backseat during the assessment phase. e assessors believe the fundamentals can be enhanced through training, so they are most con- cerned about the applicant's other attributes. Specif- ically, they want to know if a candidate has the ability to reason through problems and find solutions dur- ing conditions of extreme stress. CRITICAL THINKING "If the candidate is trainable—and that's what we're looking for—physical conditioning is the easy part," says Deputy Chief Chris Cowan, who commands the Richland County SD's Special Teams Division, which includes SRT. "Critical thinking skills are what we are looking for." According to Cowan, during the interview, assess-

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