POLICE Magazine

AUG 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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40 POLICE AUGUST 2018 ment, and selection phases candidates are asked, "Why do you want to be a full- time SRT operator?" eir answers often include things like: "I have a military background" or "I want to be the best." e better answer is: 'I work hard. I don't know everything. But I want to learn.' at speaks to his or her capacity," Cowan says. Cowan says capabilities are impor- tant, to be sure, but "far more important is capacity." e assessment phase must determine the candidate's "capacity" to handle and process information, problems, and chal- lenges in front of them. "And we want to be able to increase that capacity going for- ward," Cowan says. QUESTIONS AND QUESTIONERS A battery of questions is posed throughout SRT assessment and selection, and from all quarters. e SRT candidate is not only questioned by SRT leaders but questions are also posed by leaders from the vari- ous divisions and units within the depart- ment such as the Criminal Investigations Division or the Crisis Management Team, which includes hostage negotiators and suicide prevention experts. Moreover, lo- cal community leaders play a role with their own questions in the evaluation of potential SRT operators. "We have a long-established Citizens Advisory Council with members not em- ployed by RCSD, including pastors, mili- tary veterans, attorneys, business leaders, different challenges than you do?" e latter two questions speak to the candidate's sense of either selflessness or self-centeredness; with selflessness being "a vital character trait for an SRT mem- ber," according to Cowan. Capt. Maria Yturria, a leader with RC- SD's Crisis Management Team and direc- tor of RCSD's Office of Public Information, says that's it is important to get inside of what makes an SRT candidate "tick" be- fore qualifying him or her for SRT. "So for me, I might ask, not simply how you would do something in a given situ- ation, but how would you feel about what you are doing?" Yturria says. A community leader, perhaps a local church pastor who also serves as a mem- ber of RCSD's Citizens Advisory Council, might ask the SRT candidate, "How and what would you do to protect my congre- gation if we had an active shooter in the building?" Cowan says the questioning is not in- tended to yield cut-and-dried responses. "ere really is no right or wrong answer, just ways in which we cumulatively pull everything together to determine the cog- nitive mental processes of the candidate as well as his or her cognitive capacity and suitability for the work we do." SRT OPERATIONS Richland County SRT works hard. In the first six months of this year, the team con- ducted more than 80 operations, including meth-lab raids, counter-gang operations, and others who are actively involved in the SRT assessment and selection pro- cess," says Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott. "is is deliberate on our part, and another way by which we build trust with- in the communities we serve." What kinds of questions are asked? Cowan says that because "the physi- cal evaluation is conducted prior to the oral board, the questions asked are often based on the physical evaluation itself." ese include questions like: "What were your [the candidate's] challenges, during the physical evaluation?" Questioning can also force the candi- date to sell the assessors on what he or she can bring to the team. Questions along this line can include: "Why should you be se- lected over other candidates that you went through the evaluation process with?" Assessors are also looking for team players. So a candidate might be asked: "How would you help other team mem- bers both during the physical evaluation and as an SRT team member who have The Evolution of SWAT Operator Selection Members of the Richland County (SC) Sheriff's SRT are chosen for a variety of attributes, but teamwork is paramount. PHOTO: W. THOMAS SMITH JR.

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