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Behind the Badge SWAT team participates in Urban Shield program

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Posted: Monday, January 30, 2012 12:00 am

The Lodi Police Department is constantly looking for ways to obtain additional training for its officers. In these tough economic times it is not as easy to find this type of training as it used to be. Fortunately for our department, we were selected to participate in Urban Shield in the Bay Area a few months ago.

Urban Shield is an international tactical training competition for Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams, military units and Intelligence teams. The event is designed to test the preparedness of the individual teams in dealing with a growing number of potential threats.

This year, 31 teams participated, including Chicago PD, San Francisco PD, FBI (San Francisco field office), Jordanian Armed Forces, Israeli National Police, Alameda Sheriff’s Office, California Department of Corrections and many others.

While we were not one of the competing teams, our SWAT team was selected to proctor a scenario at Golden Gate Fields in Albany. Proctoring a scenario is a precursor to competing in the event in following years. By running a scenario we were not only able to provide training to each of the teams that rotated through our site, but we got to see different tactics, ideas and styles of leadership from teams from across the world.

Urban Shield is a complex training competition that lasts for 48 straight hours. Eight person teams rotate through 31 sites over the 48-hour period. The teams do not get a break; they go from scenario to scenario for two days straight. They try to catch a few minutes of sleep as they travel from one site to the other.

The event is designed to create stress on the teams, induce fatigue, and foster good decision making under less than ideal conditions.

Teams are assigned a driver who navigates the busy roads throughout the Bay Area. They must check in at two medical checkpoints during the event to make sure they are able to continue. People drop out due to extreme fatigue or injury.

The training scenarios consist of shooting ranges, hostage rescue actions, search warrant service, and physical challenges like obstacle courses. The training sites are all over the Bay Area.

Urban Shield is a joint venture between local law enforcement agencies, the state Office of Emergency Services, and the federal Department of Homeland Security. The Alameda County Sheriff’s office facilitates the training on the West Coast, while the Boston Police Department puts on the event on the east coast.

Our scenario incorporated a hostage rescue and the use of some very sophisticated electronic equipment. The teams were scored in more than 30 categories ranging from planning to team movement to motivation.

One of the highlights of the event for us was being able to watch how some of the international teams dealt with the scenario. The Israeli National Police team and the Jordanian teams offered a unique perspective on law enforcement in the Middle East. The Israeli team went on to win the competition.

What was truly interesting was to see an all-female Jordanian team in the competition. What they lacked in equipment they made up for with heart and fearlessness.

While their military training was evident, their exposure to Western culture was almost non-existent. It was amazing to see how excited they were to see the horses and lush green grass at Golden Gate Fields. They took pictures of everything from our vehicles to the scales where the jockeys are weighed.

Their presence opened our eyes to another part of the world where the daily challenges are much greater than here in Lodi. They were at Urban Shield to learn, but we also learned a lot about them and their culture.

The training that our SWAT team was exposed to during the event was world-class, and I can only hope we get to compete with these teams in the following years.

For more information about Urban Shield, please visit www.urbanshield.org.

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