All posts by Bill Blowers

Bill Blowers has been a police officer for over 20 years, prior to that he was in the US Army for six years. Bill is currently a Sergeant for a Municipal Agency in Washington State. He is assigned to his agencies training unit and is also a team leader on a large and active regional SWAT team. He has been assigned to SWAT since 1995 and has held positions such as Sniper, Ballistic Shield Carrier, Entry Team Member, and Assistant Team Leader. He has planned, or participated in, over 1000 missions and has in excess of 5000 documented training hours. https://primaryandsecondary.com/psal/tap-rack-tactical/

Leading Fighting Men

This is one man's musings, and over the course of my career they are things that I wanted from my leaders. As such, I have tried hard to be that guy as a current leader. This is meant for discussion, not as a how to guide. One of my greatest strengths as a leader is that I recognize how big of a failure I have been as one. Waxing poetic about leadership traits does not make you a leader. Indeed, the one true test, and really the only one that matters to me, is whether the men think I'm doing a good job as a leader. My team "votes" for team leaders, this doesn't mean that Chiefs couldn't over ride the vote, they can, but that has never happened since we started handing out 3X5 cards and asking dudes to write down the four names they want running an operation on the worst day, in the worst possible circumstances. I take great pride that the men have written my name down, not just once, but on every vote. Unanimously on the last one. And I assure you that this is not a popularity contest, these dudes get it and want

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Night Vision Quick Focus Caps

Using NVG’s for a multitude of Law Enforcement tasks presents some challenges from typical white light jobs. One of those challenges is that the NVG is focused at a given distance, typically at infinity. The problem with this is when you need to see or examine something at close range. This requires that the NVG be manipulated to change the focus point, which in turn creates a new issue being that you cannot discriminate something at distance because it is blurred. There are a few remedies for this, one of those remedies is to make a tight “OK” hand signal and place that over the objective lens. This blocks the number of photons entering the tube and changes the focus to being much closer. You can adjust the size of the “aperture” by simply making a tighter or looser “OK”. Benefit is it’s free and you always have it, down side is trying to determine the right size and also manipulate other things with the hand that is occupied making the “OK”. Several manufacturers make focus caps, they range in price from over $200 to $9. They all do the same thing, reduce the numbers of Photons entering the tube

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Knock & Announce

I was recently in a class where a discussion about “No knock” and “Knock & Announce” (K&A) warrant service was discussed. The context of the discussion was in relation to police use of night vision for warrant service. I have previously written an article with some thoughts and guidelines for NVG use by police, the discussion above transitioned to law in general. I have previously heard from other cops about what a “reasonable amount of time” is during the K&A procedure. The reality is that there is no defined time, officers must make that determination for themselves. The US Supreme court ruled as much in the case US V Banks. In that case officers testified that they waited 15-20 seconds for Banks to open the door. Banks was wanted for distribution of cocaine and the warrant was served at 1400 hours. Banks moved to suppress evidence citing that 15-20 seconds was insufficient since he was in the shower and did not hear officers knocking. Even if he had, the time was insufficient for him to exit the shower and robe himself to open the door. The court noted that the case turned on “the significance of exigency revealed by circumstances

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SWAT Team Leader Course & Vetting Entities…

I am teaching another Team Leader course in a few weeks. During the course of a year and with different topics being taught, I invariably get asked whether my course is “certified” by a specific entity. One of the reasons I started a training company was because I felt like a lot of courses that I attended were liability driven, or lacked depth or left me wanting more from an instructor who could not relate what he was teaching to a specific example or callout. Whether or not a course is “certified”, does not mean it is good or bad. But the question is odd, since Tap-Rack Tactical, LLC is the only entity responsible for its course content. How can another entity certify it? Even POST certification doesn’t mean much since the person reviewing the course material may or may not know anything about the topic. Did they certify spelling and grammar on the PowerPoint, or the actual material? In the case of my team leader course, did a team leader with equal or greater experience than me review it? And even if they did, they haven’t sat through the class. The PowerPoint is designed to keep me on track

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Mission Planning For SWAT Teams

It is no surprise that a lot of SWAT teams use the Military five point operations order for mission planning. There are many similarities and SMEAC (Situation, Mission, Execution, Admin & Logistics, Command & Signal) is a great tool for planning to ensure nothing is overlooked or missed. However, I see that base model being used even when there is more than enough time to detail plan. In the following paragraphs I will detail each of those portions, and suggest some break out section that can be added to the format. Those things are usually contingencies, but we have to remember that the Ops plan serves the primary purpose of briefing a bunch of people what their individual and element functions are within the overall plan. In addition, it is a discoverable item and should stand on its own to show professionalism within the group. That document should make a jury say to themselves, “These dudes have their shit together.” SITUATION General overview of the call, but it should do so succinctly. Who – bad guys known to be present and associates information. Kids and No-PC adults should also be listed. Cops that will assist, SWAT, detectives that will come

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Mag-Pods For Gen 2 Pmags

I had been seeing these for some time and thought they were interesting. I also wondered and worried about whether they would stay on the magazines with rough use and potentially adding a snag hazard when conducting building clears. Shane Keng from Mag-Pod was kind enough to send me some to check out. I warned him in advance that if they sucked ass I would tell people that they were garbage. He confidently told me to do my duty, always a good sign. I got six of them in April and have been using them pretty hard ever since. After six months they have been used in 130 hours of live fire training and another 150 hours of Force on Force training. I did not carry them on missions during the eval period, because real life is not the place to test gear. The training included the obligatory drops on concrete and other surfaces with full, partial and empty magazines. It also included unintentional smashes against a variety of hard things, door frames, Bearcats, walls, tables and furniture. Routine kinda smashing, not intentional smashing for the sake of destructive testing. Zero issues to report on the durability side, they stayed

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NINE PRINCIPALS OF WAR AND HOW THEY RELATE TO LE SWAT OPERATIONS

Credit is typically given to Clausewitz for the modern principals of war. I will attempt to break these down as they relate to LE SWAT missions. I did not invent them obviously, but I was exposed as a Sergeant in the Army and during my SWAT career by such prevalent experts as Sid Heal, and many others less known. Some of this will be regurgitating their thoughts since there is no need to re-write cogent and concise thinking. I honestly don't remember where the line blurs between others thoughts and where my own take over, but please suffice to say that I am a product of good training, leadership and good mentors. All credit here to good men that cared enough to pass on information. I apologize for length in advance. The military acronym used to help you pass a promotion exam is MOOSEMUSS. I often see one of two things when I say it, most often is a blank stare. LE leaders don't have a damn clue about the 9 principals. And in other cases, they spit forth with a "Sir sandwich" naming each letter, but there is very little understanding or thinking about application. Hopefully this will spark

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Low Ready / High Ready Again

I recently read an article that was espousing the benefits of high ready over low ready. Within the article the author stated that one explanation for high ready is that you’re automatically in a position to muzzle strike or be able to run faster. Both of which he stated were true. On the muzzle strike issue I would say he is right. As a cop my department policies dictate some of what I can and cannot do. Muzzle strikes to the head and neck region would be considered deadly force by my policy. It falls in the same category as a wood shampoo, I can do it but deadly force criteria must be met. Conversely, throwing elbows to the dome are not, and I would argue that I can throw a nastier elbow with my rifle at low ready versus high ready. I don’t have one of those sweet ass pressure plates that Drago was punching in Rocky IV to test it, but I can subjectively tell you that there is a huge difference in heavy bag response trying it from both positions. On to the point at hand of this; does high ready really let me run faster? I

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LE use of NVG for Warrant Service – One Cop’s opinion.

I have been a SWAT dude for over 20 years, during that time I have seen huge advances in tactics, techniques and procedures as well as gear and supporting equipment. Indeed, I tell new guys that I wish I was starting my SWAT career today versus being at the end of it. We have come a long way since Balaclavas, Command Jac vests with K30 plates and MP5’s. A big reason for this growth and increase in skill is directly related to the GWOT. America’s heroes in foreign lands have discovered that technology, when used correctly, is a force safety multiplier unlike anything else. This is particularly true of night vision capabilities and supporting gear. It is far past the time that domestic LE catch up. As I said earlier, I’ve been kicking in doors since 1995. Since NVG technology was nowhere near where it is today, and the cost was also extremely prohibitive, SWAT teams in America were simply conducting warrant service with flashlights when conditions were such that you had to see in the dark. Many different white light techniques and team tactics with white light have been developed and used over the years. During all that time,

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A Quick Guide To Fighting

As a cop there really are very few trained and disciplined crooks that can actually fight. All of them understand the street, talk shit while you move inside and then throw a haymaker followed up with monkey rage wild swings or kicks to the head if the haymaker connects. This has been my experience anyway, not just from personal fights but responding to people who have been beat up at the bus stop. So first order of business is don't let a dude get inside the range of his weapons. Maintain more range than normal cultural conversation distances. Two things are gonna happen, he's gonna throw that ugly ass overhand right or try to tackle you. So learn to see telegraphs and slip punches. Learn to stuff or sidestep the tackle. Both of these are best learned through a boxing program that includes sparring. I can fight orthodox or south paw, and I think feeling good from either is a force multiplier just like shooting support side. But get real good dominant side first, then incorporate the support side. Low line kicks are also something you want in the arsenal. Stop kicks and meat tenderizers to the knee and thigh

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