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:
- Kevlar is heavy. Man, was I sweating. And I was wearing the small, visitor one. The SWAT team’s weighed 45 pounds.
- “Getting made” is making sergeant.
- 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.
- They like to talk about iCarly and who’s gay on Sponge Bob between raids.
- 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.
- The sport of curling seems to fascinate them.
- 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.
- It’s hard to take notes during a raid in the dark (yes, I’m a dork).
- Little kids can sleep through anything.
- The pre-raid briefing where they get the layout of the house and the plan of attack is short. Like scary short.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.”
- They say cool things like “knock and announce,” “stealthing it,” and “hop and pop.”
- 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.
- The shy, quiet guy on SWAT may just be the sexiest one.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!!