Southwest Florida SWAT teams in need of serious upgrades

I spent last weekend taking a great tac-med and shooting course at the Manatee Gun and Archery Club.

Eight law enforcement officers from around the region — seven deputies and one police officer — also took the course.  All were members of their departments’ SWAT teams.

All of them were fit, highly motivated, switched on and there to learn — about what you’d expect from SWATties.

They brought their team gear and their department-issue weapons to the training.

I was nearly struck dumb by what I saw.

In my humble opinion, not one of the lawmen was properly outfitted with both gear and weaponry.  To be clear, some had far better kit than the others, but every one of them needed serious upgrades.

Two deputies had great kit, but a terrible handgun — the Sig P226 DAK.

I’ve shot the P226 DAK, and I know there are some hardcore Sig fans who may actually like the two-stage  DAK trigger, which reduces the trigger weight of the standard DAO by offering a 6.5 pound or an 8.5 pound trigger, depending upon how far the shooter lets the trigger travel forward, but for SWAT team members it’s an overly complex joke.

SWAT operators  need to be able to make precise shots — hostage rescue shots — a nearly impossible feat with this handgun.

Don’t get me wrong, the P226 DAK was a great gun in its day, but nowadays there are much better options available for the precision shooting required in a SWAT call out. And, in my humble opinion, the DAK barely qualifies for standard patrol operations.

One deputy had by far the worst kit I’ve ever seen — period.

He was issued soft body armor — no plates — and he had an MP-5 instead of an AR.

His county — especially the eastern portion — has large rural areas.

Rural areas mean rifles.

This poor lawman would find himself outgunned on nearly any call-out. The MP-5 is a great sub-gun, but it’s still only a 9mm and therefore lacks range. The reason nearly all departments have gone to the AR is that it’s light and handy for CQB, but it still offers the shooter the ability to push out to 200 or 300 yards if needed.

Meanwhile, and this really bothers me, any bad guy armed with a rifle could make Swiss cheese out of that soft body armor. It’s a death sentence waiting to happen.

I understand most LEAs are always facing budget issues, but these issues should not effect the agency’s SWAT resources. These are the guys you call out when things are at their worst. Who backs up SWAT? Therefore, they should have the best tools available to do their job, regardless of the costs involved.

I need to point out that none of the LEOs complained about their gear or their guns to me. They didn’t speak to the “media” without permission. This column is based solely upon what I observed during the two-day training.

I sincerely hope it leads to some improvements, since I live here too.

 

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About Author

Lee Williams can’t remember a time in his life when he wasn’t shooting. Before becoming a journalist, Lee served in the Army and worked as a police officer. He’s earned more than a dozen journalism awards as a reporter, and three medals of valor as a cop. He is an NRA-certified law enforcement firearms instructor, an avid tactical shooter and a training junkie. When he’s not busy as a senior investigative reporter, he is usually shooting his AKs, XDs and CZs. If you don’t run into him at a local gun range, you can reach him at 941.284.8553, by email, or by regular mail to 1777 Main St., Sarasota, FL 34236. You can follow him on Twitter: @HT_GunWriter and on Facebook @The Gun Writer.