Things nobody tells you: SWAT standoffs are actually boring


We all know that TV shows and movies about cops, the military and whatever other law enforcement are insanely fake, but when you have an interaction with cops, deep down you kind of secretly hope it turns out like the movies.

If the cops show up and your neighbor’s door, you kind of want something a little spicy to happen so you might be the brave hero who saves the day, or the person who ends up on TV giving a somber interview that speaks for the community.

Well that doesn’t happen, at least not that often.

In my current job I cover the police happenings in the area, and in the eight months or so that I have been at this position we have had roughly half a dozen situations where the local SWAT unit has been called to the scene to assist local law enforcement.

When you think of the SWAT team being on the scene you think tension, drama, that something might go down at any second.

Sorry to throw a wet blanket on your movie and fantasy scenes that play out in your head, but 99 times out of 100, thank goodness, nothing happens.

As a reporter, it is not like a movie where we are just feet away from the action, wearing a bullet-proof vest, and in harm’s way where only the cops can save us.

In actuality, we’re 4-5 blocks from where the situation is happening, you can’t see anything, you have zero clue what’s going on, and 90 percent of the people in the area aren’t doing anything either.

I was called to what might have been the most serious standoff I’ve covered yet yesterday. A man didn’t stop after Department of Public Safety troopers tried to pull him over for a traffic violation. He then went on a 100 mph-plus chase, ended up at a house that he ran into, and then claimed he was armed.

So the local SWAT was called in to negotiate to try to bring the guy out peacefully.

Those not on the negotiation team were blocks away, sitting on the curb or the bumper of their cars, and even the police and fire department guys that were not at the house were just kind of there directing traffic, not at all concerned about the situation that was happening nearby, and really just trying to figure out a way to not be bored until they could leave the area.

And so we sat. And we waited. And did nothing for three hours until eventually the guy came out peacefully and was arrested for a previous warrant and for running from the cops. And the guy didn’t even have a gun inside the house like he claimed. He had a knife. Needless to say, had the shit actually gone down in this situation, this guy would have died or been taken into custody in seconds.

Now, that’s not to say there isn’t tension and drama for those negotiators and SWAT members who are actually at the scene just feet from where a potentially dangerous person is, but for everyone else involved…it’s not that great.

And that’s also a reflection of how good these people are at their jobs. Again, for the half-dozen of these incidents that have happened since I have been here, not one has escalated into anything serious.

So yeah, sorry to spoil everything you knew about SWAT situations, mainly that Colin Farrel is there and everyone looks amazing and that it is always some drama filled event.


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