LAPD SWAT may rethink training after injuries

The Daily Breeze

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Police Department decided to change its selection and training procedures within the SWAT unit after four applicants were seriously injured on an obstacle course, a commanding officer said Thursday.

Capt. Jeffrey L. Greer, commanding office of the LAPD's Metropolitan Division, said it was those injuries, and not a confidential report completed by a panel of experts, that prompted change.

In 2006, seven of 38 applicants were injured. Four were hurt on a military obstacle course at Camp Pendleton, and two of those applicants had to undergo surgery for torn ligaments and were off- duty for a year.

"The injuries were what got the ball rolling," Greer said. "When you look at that obstacle course, it has nothing to do with being a talented, trained SWAT officer. It created too many injuries for us to let that remain."

The SWAT unit gained unwanted attention last month when the Los Angeles Times obtained a confidential document that called for easing SWAT's physical requirements and allowing women to join the unit.

Police Chief William Bratton said misinformation on that report has been spread throughout the media, and a public version of the document will be presented to the Police Commission on April 15.

One of the changes recently implemented by the LAPD was to open the selection pool. Instead of only hiring from within the Metropolitan Division, which has 240 officers, SWAT now accepts applications from any LAPD officer with five years on the job.

That opens the process up to 2,147 officers, 401 of whom are women.

"No one is lowering the standards for selecting officers in SWAT," Greer said.

"We want women in SWAT, just like any other entity within the Los Angeles Police Department but I want to make it crystal clear - we're not lowering standards to accomplish that."

On Monday, Jessica Grasso became the first woman to join the department's 12-week SWAT training school.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League has been critical of the report's findings since they were leaked.

LAPPL officials filed an unfair employee relations claim against the LAPD, claiming the union was not consulted before department brass changed admission standards.

Greer contradicted that assertion, saying the department met with league officials on Jan. 3.

Subsequent meetings scheduled for Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 were canceled by the union, according to the LAPD.

Union President Tim Sands said scheduling conflicts are not a legitimate reason for going around the "meet and confer process."

Copyright 2008 The Daily Breeze

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