20 things I learned on my ride-along with SWAT

Thanks to a wonderful writing pal in my local RWA chapter, I went on a ride-along with a SWAT unit last weekend. They raided two drug houses and allowed us to ride in the wagon, watch the raids, and go into the houses after they subdued the suspects and while vice searched the places.

20 things I learned on my ride-along with SWAT:

  1. Kevlar is heavy. Man, was I sweating. And I was wearing the small, visitor one. The SWAT team’s weighed 45 pounds.
  2. “Getting made” is making sergeant.
  3. A SWAT guy panics if he forgets his helmet at the first raid. And then everyone laughs at and mocks (with high pitched voices) the poor guy who panicked.
  4. They like to talk about iCarly and who’s gay on Sponge Bob between raids.
  5. And if they think you are going to tell anyone they talked about iCarly they get mad. So mad I had to promise not to use names.
  6. The sport of curling seems to fascinate them.
  7. A SWAT wagon can be transformed from anything. The unit’s first was an old bread truck. Their current wagon is a retired ambulance tricked out and painted black.
  8. It’s hard to take notes during a raid in the dark (yes, I’m a dork).
  9. Little kids can sleep through anything.
  10. The pre-raid briefing where they get the layout of the house and the plan of attack is short. Like scary short.
  11. They like to joke around on the way to the raid, but ten seconds before they hit the house the sergeant yells “kill the master,” the interior lights go out, and they are all business. The switch happens in a split second…and yeah, it’s cool as hell!
  12. One should not stand under the bright street lamp while SWAT is raiding the dark house with no exterior lights. You make yourself a giant target.
  13. Don’t laugh when the helpful SWAT guy behind you turns on a light so you can walk down the dark stairs and he says, “Don’t mind the fact that this light is attached to my assault weapon which is pointed at your back.”
  14. They say cool things like “knock and announce,” “stealthing it,” and “hop and pop.”
  15. The tall, tough SWAT guy talking to a little kid while the house is being searched, asking questions like “Which sport is your favorite?” and “What position do you play?” is adorable. I think my uterus skipped a beat. And I’m not even having kids.
  16. The shy, quiet guy on SWAT may just be the sexiest one.
  17. All the uniformed, gun-carrying SWAT guys got hotter as the night went on and the adrenaline started pumping. The phrase “I’d do any of them” or something similar was uttered on the drive home (and no, it wasn’t me who said it, but I do believe I agreed).
  18. They like to read the books in the house they raid. The guy guarding the suspects was reading one about what to do to make yourself an un-datable man. He was checking off the items on the list that applied to his sergeant.
  19. When they are waiting outside in the dark after the raid, they should not stand so close to each other when I’m around. And one of them should NOT kneel facing the other’s crotch because you know where my brain went.
  20. And the last thing I learned on my SWAT ride-along: I’m a chicken shit.

Thanks to the SWAT guys and the men and women of vice for allowing us to see their work and for their dedication to the job. I appreciate all the answers to our questions and information you shared. You guys rock!!


36 thoughts on “20 things I learned on my ride-along with SWAT

  1. Wow, sounds like a very cool experience! Do you follow Katie Allen’s blog? She’s done SWAT ridealongs, too, I think, and even decided to get police training.

  2. I don’t even write SWAT romances, but this has made me seriously tempted to at least do a ride-along. That sounded awesome!

  3. Chris: It was. I admit I was a bit scared to go, but I’m so glad I did. I don’t think I’ve ever been by Katie Allen’s blog. I’ll have to check it out. Thanks!

    Dee: It was a great experience. And definitely made me want to write a cop love story. The closest I’ve gotten is a former cop.

  4. Wow, how exciting! And you did much better than I would have. I’d have been scared shitless. You should consider a SWAT romance story now that you have all that great inside knowledge.

  5. I think it’s totally cool that you did this and I can’t wait to read the SWAT story you write because of it.

    Very nice blog post.

  6. That is SO cool! Thank you for sharing! I LOVE the iCarly thing. Makes me feel better about putting Wizard’s of Waverly Place in one of my books. heehee

  7. Wow Sloan that is really kinna cool! Wasn’t it kinna dangerous? The only time here that you even get to see the inside of a police car is when your being arrested!!

  8. Wow Sloan. That is cool. I completely identify with # 20. That would be me too.

    I love #’s 8, 15 & 11.

    I really hope you will use some of what you learned from your ride along in a future story.

  9. WOW. That sounds like the coolest thing, EVER! Yes, I know I sound like a geek. So what. That just sounds like so much fun and coolness. I can’t believe they let you go inside after. Man! Gotta stop before i completely geek out…. :D

  10. Now I understand why they got nervous about you telling what was discussed to and from the raid. LOL

    And…let me guess…the shy guy will definitely be in one of your future books…bring it on, baby!

  11. This is such a great post! It is always interesting to see the details and little quirks that go on behind the scene. I love that truth is stranger than fiction in some ways; inside jokes, chatter, and odd little facts can add up to a memorable story.

  12. Kerry: Thanks for stopping by. I have to say I’m considering the SWAT romance. The guys were great inspiration.

    Connie: Thanks!! It was definitely worth the risk to see how they handle themselves and learn some of the procedures.

    JR: I owe someone a big favor for letting me tag along. It was very cool.

    Jambrea: The iCarly moment was hysterical. Five guys with their full gear, helmets, guns ready, all riding in the back of the wagon talking about iCarly. I had to put my hand over my mouth to keep from laughing out loud.

  13. Perpetua: So how many times have you seen the inside of the police car? LOL. I will say, I got a little freaked when they told us that we should follow them out of the wagon right when they went in for the raid. They said to stay behind the vice cops at the perimeter. Then when we get out and all the vice had their guns drawn I was like, “What the hell did I get myself into?” LOL.

    Susie: Glad you could identify with my chicken ways. I actually did write in my little notebook while the lights were off in the wagon. The one guy asked, “What are you writing down?” That’s when another one wanted to confiscate my notes so I wouldn’t say which one of them brought up iCarly.

    Jaime: Geeks unite! They say anyone can ride-along. You should check it out in your area.

  14. Arlene: It was a riot. I couldn’t believe I was sitting in the middle of all that action and they were talking about Sponge Bob and iCarly. I think my friend who sat next to Shy Guy should write something about him. He actually talked to her twice. He had to tell her he was reaching under her feet for the battering ram.

    Tara: Thanks! The best part was all the inside info and interactions between them when they didn’t know I was watching as they secured the area between raids.

  15. Dang Sloan it sounded like you had a great time. I would love to do something like that someday. #9 is true my kids slept through an earthquake with me screaming, lol I do love all the terms they use and shoot I love SWAT teams uniforms. They don’t even have to be doing anything to look hot, lol. If any of you authors do a book about SWAT I will read it!! I really do love when the main characters are cops, firemen, military etc!!

  16. Hi Sloan – very cool. And what did you think of the black humor? The sweetness of the heart under all that body armor, along with their black humor, is what gets me every time. You’ll have guys spouting the f-word every other word, slapping each other around, talking about dead bodies and stupid criminal stuff, then they’ll be on their knees calming down a child – amazing men for sure. I go on ride-alongs at my department at least twice a year, and I love them more with every one. And yeah, there’s just something about a man with a big weapon… ;-)

  17. My friend Arlene referred me to this and it was Funny. Oh, wow. Hehe
    And your response to Arlene, “He had to tell her he was reaching under her feet for the battering ram.”
    I would have said something like…Oh, is that what you call it. But that’s just me and my warped mind. LOL

    Thanks for posting this. This was great. :D

  18. Leaundra: It was sad seeing the kids there, but it was great to see the one guy being such a sweetie to them. Yep, love those men in uniform!

    PG: You’re welcome. You should have seen it in person. I whispered to my friend, “uh, he should not kneel down like that.” Then the sergeant patted the Shy Guy on the back of the neck after the raid, and all I could think was, ‘STOP touching each other. You’re killing me.’

    Michelle: Thanks! The funny part…when he first said “kill the master” he was in the middle of joking around and just shouted it out. Then the lights went out, the back doors flew open, and they were all ready to jump out. I was like, “uh, I guess it’s time.” I’m such a dork.

    Georgia: You’re right. It was such an interesting dichotomy. Their interactions with each other and the kids was really the most fascinating part. I’ve known cops in real life but have never seen them on the job like that.

    Alan: You’re right. The shy ones have always gotten to me. You’re welcome.

    Angelica: That was sweet of Arlene to share. I’m glad you stopped by. I love your response to the guy with the battering ram. I think my friend was too afraid of scaring the poor boy.

  19. I learned I’m a chicken too. While doing a ride -a -long, my officer was chewing on a tootsie roll pop and being totally relaxed while we rode then over the radio SHOTS FIRED. Tootsie roll pop out the window– and as we hit warp speed, I was pinned back in my seat. When we got there, he told me”Don’t get out of the car.” no kidding, I was in the foot well, cowering behind the massive engine block However, our SWAT team did take us to their firing range, and teach us to shoot using a semiautomatic S & W 9 mm..plus a combat reload. for our CPA class I scored an 88 out of 100 :)


  20. Hi Bryl. I loved that part too. At fist I thought it was cool that he was reading and then we learned what he was reading. Funny stuff. Thanks for stopping by.

    Hi Ellen: Oh my!! That is a great (and scary) story. I’d have been in the foot well, cowering too. Congrats on the score. That sounds like a neat experience.

  21. Thanks, Joanna. It was an awesome experience and yeah…Kevlar weighs a ton! Hope you get to go on one for yourself. You should definitely check into it.

  22. What a fantastic experience for a writer and what a friggin’ hysterical blog post you got from it… LOVED this!

  23. OMG, great post Sloan!……I am trying to reconcile the image I have of all the cops I know…..to a bunch of guys talking about iCarly and Spongebob…LMAO. Thanks for sharing what sounds like a great experience :)

  24. BeckyK: Thanks!! Glad you enjoyed reading about my SWAT night. Thanks for the comment.

    Dana: You’re welcome. It was a great experience. If I do ever write about a SWAT unit I hope I can capture the experience as intensely as it actually felt being there. Thanks for stopping by and checking out the post.

    Hi ElaineG: And what an image, right? I couldn’t get over what they were talking about myself. The entire night was such an odd mix of danger and laughter.

    • Thanks, Lisa! It definitely was a new experience for me. Never been that close to something like that. It was a great opportunity to see their work, and I highly recommend it if you get the chance. Of course, I’m sure all SWAT guys don’t discuss iCarly and Sponge Bob on the raids.

  25. I realize I’m WAY late to the party here, but… HOW TOTALLY AWESOME!!!! What a fantastic experience you had — and I loved what you learned out there. :-)

    • Thanks, LC. Comments are always appreciated and never late. Thanks for checking out the post. It was definitely quite an experience, and even if I never write a SWAT storyline, I learned a lot that night.

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