Looking Back: SWAT Camaraderie

The other day I ran the knife attack for members of ‘D’ Platoon Metro, commonly referred to as SWAT. Over the years the faces and names have changed but the attitudes (thank God) have not. There is absolutely no mercy and I mean NO mercy, from the group if you make a single misstep. Forgiveness? Not in their vocabulary or wheelhouse nor should it be. Handles (nicknames) are generally employed among the men and women, and the banter is absolutely non-stop. It is literally one line after another, after another, for as long as you’re on the range. One can simply not stop laughing at the sheer brutality of the comments aimed at each other. This is precisely how it should be.

Members of SWAT have earned the right to be counted among the ranks through years of diligent police work, expertise and of course the application process itself. It is not only the physical, but rather the mental aspect which the selection process is based upon. The stress oral (and it was indeed a stress oral in my time) was anything but a picnic. You are posited questions to which there is no right answer. They place you in predicaments through as series of unexpected questions and then sit back and simply watch you twist and turn to arrive at some semblance of a reasonable response. For example, one of my questions was the following; you are assigned to a protection detail of a Hollywood starlet who is a key witness in a murder trial. At 0300 hours she has been drinking and comes out in a bathrobe with nothing on underneath and the robe is open.

She propositions you. Do you, (A) Accept. (B) Politely decline and inform a supervisor. (C) Inform her boyfriend. (C) Inform your partner. (D) Inform the studios. No matter which way you go there is no “right” answer. Inform a supervisor? “What and role on a key witness Reitz and lose the case?” Okay…my partner. “What…and not a supervisor? You’re going to circumvent the chain of command? Is that what you’re telling us?” Okay…the studios? “What the hell are they going to do? Are you that stupid? So you’re going to make ‘D’ Team appear to be incompetent is that it? Okay…her boyfriend? What – and be the causal factor of an altercation between the boyfriend, you and the starlet that ends up in the papers?” Okay…accept? “Are you out of your frigging’ mind Reitz?” And then quite naturally…the board members will simply sit and stare at you waiting all the while, for you to break which can then lead to a somewhat prolonged and uncomfortable, period of silence. Lots and lots, of fun!

So if one can get through all the rigmarole of the selection process you still have to prove yourself and that will entail having no personal feelings and a very thick skin over an extended period of time. This is precisely why, when one is fully accepted, you are then entitled to push back when the one-liners come at you. And all of this, rather naturally, results in a constant back and forth of invectives and derogatory comments relative to one’s life choice selections which somehow and in some way, makes life a bit more tolerable.

Humor and self-deprecating humility in the presence of others in high speed units is the bonding mechanism which allows a unit to endure all the vicissitudes of life and complex “stuff” thrown at them day in and day out. It allows them not only to be resolved in their commitment to each other – but to the unit as a whole. In a very real sense this brutal humor puts it all in perspective. It is perhaps the one thing I miss the most since retirement. The camaraderie, humor, experience and professionalism stands out when one is around these guy’s (and gal) and I will always be very honored to have been counted among them.

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