The explosive option for SWAT teams

When it comes to high-risk tactical entries, the “explosive option” may be a better choice than mechanical, ballistic, or thermal breaching

Editor’s Note: PoliceOne Contributor Glenn French would like to dedicate this article in memory of Detroit Police Officer Brian Huff. Huff was among four other officers who were shot early Monday, May 3, 2010 while responding to a report of shots fired. Officer Huff was killed in the incident, and leaves behind a wife and 10-year-old son.

The modern day tactical team is faced with many more challenges than in the past. As our industry grows and technology advances some challenges remain the same. Door breaching, for example, is a tactical problem for just about every operation a tactical team faces.

There are many options available to SWAT teams across the country. Those options include mechanical breaching, ballistic breaching, and thermal breaching. When it comes to high-risk entries, in a fortified stronghold or when a significant risk to officer safety is present, then the “explosive option” may be the preferred choice.

Explosive breaching in law enforcement gained its popularity in the mid 1990s and has increasingly became a part of many tactical teams’ breaching options. The basic concept is simple: apply explosives to your target objective and gain entry quickly. However, the tactic is very complex and requires extensive training.

There are many reasons for the need of rigorous training for the explosive breacher. Explosive breaching is a non-lethal force option, therefore explosive breachers tasked with the objective to effect an entry must consider the safety of innocent persons inside the stronghold, the safety of the suspect, and the safety of the tactical officers conducting the operation.

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