I got the opportunity to go to the TTPOA SWAT Competition (Texas Tactical Police Officer’s Association) held at the Houston Police Department Police Academy. There were SWAT teams from all over the State of Texas as well as a few from Louisiana and Mississippi.
The Houston Police Department SWAT Team members were running the competition and serving as safety officers for the event. The man in charge of the event had given me permission to go pretty much wherever I wanted to go in order to get pictures, which I thought was very gracious of him.
Throughout the day, I got to meet the members of HPD’s SWAT Team and I was impressed with their professionalism. I have been around some of the best tactical teams in the world working as a private military contractor, so to see that HPD’s SWAT operates at such a high standard was a great thing to see firsthand. It was evident that they have a highly efficient team. Being that we are the fourth largest city in the Country and a major hub for drug trafficking, it was also a comfort.
From the beginning, there was no detail that had not already been planned out. I got a great surprise during the competition when I saw a member of HPD’s SWAT team that looked very familiar. Come to find out, he was my neighbor back when he was in High School and it made me feel old to see that he is now married and has 5 years on with the Police Department. We didn’t have much time to catch up, but I am hoping to hear from him.
The teams were competing in courses that challenged them not only physically, technically, but mentally as well. I am not sure how well I would be doing if I had to carry a log for 50 yards, breach through a door and then use a pistol to engage targets; but wait, it doesn’t stop there – then, you have to run up ladders and a ramp into a building, solve a team problem that is being introduced when you get there and then carry a dummy to the finish line. It made me tired just to watch. Some teams worked better than others and it was easy to spot those teams that had not invested the time in training. In that business, the harder you train, the better your chances of survival.
Now for those of you who do not think it is big deal to run carrying a log and then sprint into a room and get scored on how you shoot a pistol… Try it sometime and you’ll find out how hard it is to put rounds on target when you are sucking wind.
In another course of fire, the members of the SWAT teams had to run approx. 300 yards in full gear and then engage targets, but of course, that was not the only challenge, then one of the members who randomly drew straws had to be carried as if he was wounded back another 75 yards.
One of the vendors at the SWAT Team Competition was Patriot3, who designs and manufactures Elevated Tactics Systems such as the MARS platform (Mobile Adjustable Ramp System. The MARS platform allows teams to make entry into multiple levels of a building or insert members over high walls. The platform was mounted to a Ford 550 truck, but could be mounted on other vehicles such as an MRAP. This would enable SWAT members to drive up to a building and run right through the windows of the second floor, but would be equally helpful when making entry on a large airliner.
There are other options available such as side platforms that can be deployed to allow side access to a bus. This would help a team if they ever had to deal with a SWAT crisis in a bus. Instead of running up with ladders, they could drive up and be eye level with the situation in a matter of seconds.
As I spoke to the company representative from Patriot3, he explained that the whole idea started out as a drawing on Microsoft Paint and after a couple of years of development, became a reality. I was truly impressed with how the MARS platform worked and I am hoping that someone will come along and help HPD add that to their capabilities; I could see a lot of need for a vehicle like that.
I am hoping that I will have an opportunity to join this group again in the future to get some more shots of them at work. It was an honor to be allowed out there and I want to thank them for showing me around.