Bridgewater: SWAT Tactics on Display During Training

Calls with SWAT teams are becoming more common around the South Shore. Training is paramount in the response to these situations, as seconds can be the difference from a peaceful resolution to a deadly one.

In Bridgewater, basic training is underway for 22 prospective operators at an elementary school under renovation. Potential members of the South Eastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC) and the Cape Cod Regional Law Enforcement Council are in attendance.

AJ Lapanna, a SEMLEC Tactical Operations Commander and Middleboro Police Officer, says the lessons are a staring point for future operators.

“This is the world where every second is precious and valuable, and we have to make them understand that. It is mechanically possible for a Glock firearm to fire five rounds in one second,” Lapanna. “If you’re one second behind the curve, you could potentially have five rounds on you. Unfortunately that’s the world we have to live in.”

It’s easy for others to look at a situation and come up with alternatives in the hours, weeks, and months after a specific action. But for the ones facing danger, it’s an ever-changing situation.

“We don’t have that luxury,” said Lapanna. “We operate where seconds matter.”

The benefit of a SWAT team, is that there are situations where they can slow things down. Numerous resources are pooled between communities to carefully evaluate a situation. They can use tactics to allow for more time with decisions. With armored vehicles, negotiators, and robots, officers don’t always have to charge in.

“We’re always going to be second-guessed, but we rely on our training to put us through, to make those tactical decisions we need to make,” said Christopher Horkan, a Pembroke Police Officer and Tactical Commander. “For the most part, we try to slow everything down if we can. But decisions need to be made quickly, you need to think on your feet. Hopefully the training and preparation you put in prior to that will help you make that tactical decision.”

How they work towards that goal depends on the situation. For an active shooter or a hostage, a team would move with more urgency. With recent barricade situations, the tactics have changed to a slower pace to ensure officer safety, and not rush a person who may be threatening to harm themselves or others.

“The whole goal of this, the whole goal of a SWAT team is the preservation of life,” said Lapanna. “We’re going to do everything we can to preserve life.”

The tactics are changing, and these new operators will get a chance to learn from seasoned instructors.

Stay tuned to WATD for updates for more on the SEMLEC SWAT team during this training week.

Bridgewater Police Officer Nicholas Chmielinski found a WATD reporter while clearing a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

“Hands up!” Bridgewater Police Officer Nicholas Chmielinski found a WATD reporter while clearing a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Training members of the SEMLEC SWAT team stack near a door. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Training members of the SEMLEC SWAT team stack near a door. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Members of the Cape Cod LEC SWAT team clear a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Members of the Cape Cod LEC SWAT team clear a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Training members of the Cape Cod LEC SWAT team prepare to enter a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.

Training members of the Cape Cod LEC SWAT team prepare to enter a room. Photo credit: Lenny Rowe.


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About Lenny Rowe

Lenny Rowe is one of the newest additions to the WATD News team. He grew up in Pembroke and was an intern at WATD in 2012. A 2016 graduate from Suffolk University, Lenny left the City of Boston and now lives in Rockland. Lenny has covered both news and sports, from the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Outside of WATD, Lenny covers high school sports for The Boston Globe. Lenny can be reached at Lenny.Rowe30@Gmail.com