Lessons in SWAT
To begin my day, I met my friend Whitney Lancaster at the Columbus Police SWAT and Canine Division. When I got there I noticed the wide variety of animals and vehicles just outside the building. There were horses and dogs in training with policemen in work boots and uniforms, a sight unexpected for most. I found that if you put aside the intimidating look of multiple police cars and several people with police badges, the mood was friendly and the room was full of conversation. Everyone I talked to were welcoming and seemed to be happy about what they were doing and what was in store for them today. This being my first time inside of a police building, it made me feel very comfortable with the atmosphere I would be encased in if I were to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Who I met next was Enoch B. White a SWAT officer. He wore a camo uniform, much like that of military personnel, with large work boots, black under armor with S.W.A.T. written across the collar, and what I assumed to be a holster on his upper thigh for a type of handgun. He was very tall, approximately 6’5”, with dark skin with freckles and eyes that looked as if they’d witnessed much more than most men have judging by their wrinkles. I learned right away that he had been on call with a hostage situation all night and was extremely exhausted. He could not disclose all of the details however the basis of it was that a man was holding a woman hostage and had to be talked out of anything both would regret. As we walked around the SWAT garage, he told me about all the different types of vehicles inside. They had two large armored vehicles called BearCats, one 10 years old and one 5. The trucks walls were heavily lined with bullet proof exteriors that could withstand a shot from up to a 50 caliber BMG sniper rifle, a very powerful and extremely destructive rifle. Also there was a collection of undercover vehicles which I believe would be counter productive to describe, and 2 even larger trucks. Truck number one was meant for the transport of the entire SWAT team and weapons which I was not allowed to see inside of and the other was the negotiations truck. The second truck was equipped with cameras designed to see over fences, others to see through walls, and several computers and desks for the negotiations team. While Enoch White was extremely insightful when describing his line of work, actually seeing the powerful tools they utilize when working and seeing the large amount of effort that’s put into every call was what really made this experience outstanding.
While I was there, my mentor Whitney was called in for something he had to complete immediately. He has always said his job was completely unpredictable and it wasn’t until then that I had realized just as serious he was. I understood how a SWAT officer would need to be ready at all times but I never realized almost all officers, at the desk or on the street, must be prepared to get to work at always. At first this intimidated me however I know that a job with this much action, this much freedom, and an incredible feeling of accomplishment was the choice for me. Although I may not become a SWAT officer directly out of the academy, I am excited to know that this could be a very likely career option in my future.
At the end of my tour I gave Officer Enoch a packet of questions I wrote to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be in his position. I am currently waiting on his response.