tactical preschool 45: what’s your hurry?

Something that unfortunately tends to fly out the window when stress enters the equation is clear thinking. 

It seems like everybody studies, practices and sometimes even downright fantasizes about “dynamic entry” and building clearing when often the best thing to do is slow the F@#K down and think about the necessity of it. 

Going into a building after an armed and barricaded man or clearing your home in the middle of the night is probably the most dangerous thing you could ever do. You need to seriously consider the necessity of attempting it before you do it. Ask yourself, is there really a need to “go in”? Is someone in danger? 

If you know someone is inside a building, armed, alone, and not ready to surrender, what is the hurry? Why would you need to “go dynamic” and risk getting shot? Perhaps there IS a reason, but you really need to figure out what that reason is first and be able to articulate it. If you go in and get yourself or someone else killed, what will your explanation be for your decision? If you and your wife are in your bedroom and you hear someone in the house (you KNOW someone is in the house and there is nobody else living in the house with you), what possible reason is there to go out looking? Arm yourself, call 911 and bunker down. It may even be a good idea to announce what you have done quite loudly. ..the fact that you are armed and have called the cops that is. 

In lone gunman barricades there is typically an attempt made to make contact with the bad guy and negotiate. If that works than you are golden. If the bad guy decides to not respond then an option is to knock in the front door and wait outside. 


This approach allows you to continue (if necessary) with what is called a “limited entry”. You don’t necessarily have to breach and clear every room in the structure. You simply have to figure out where the subject is. 

If the bad guy manages to wound, or even worse kill one of you, will “going dynamic” to get him be a good solution if it results in more of the good guys getting injured or killed? I don’t think so. Evacuate and deal with the new situation. 


And while it is a fact that you want to minimize the noise you make so that the subject can’t track your movement or location, that does not mean that you cannot call out commands or instructions. I have seen officers trying to “stealth clear” in situations where the better option would have been to stand outside and call the bad guy out. Even if you get a “F$%K YOU!!” in reply you at least can get an idea of where the bad guy is. 

It is vital to remember that all situations differ, you need to be flexible and decide what the best tactical response for your particular incident is. 

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10 thoughts on “tactical preschool 45: what’s your hurry?”

  1. Absolutely if it is not an immediate aid situation then “slow down” and move with caution. Imagine going fast only to find the bad guy ready, willing and able to take you out because you were not cautious!

  2. “Going dynamic” is an extremely common mistake. It happens most often at the officer level. The adrenaline makes you feel like you have to do something. Actively doing something helps clear the adrenaline out of the system but is it the right thing to do? Typically not, but the feeling of urgency is pretty overwhelming when you are in the moment. It takes preparation and discipline to ignore that sense of urgency.

    However this issue doesn’t just occur at the officer level. Supervisors are guilty of it too. How many times does an officer get shot rescuing drugs rather than people. Afterwards the critique is the same. Why did you push it?

    Two links on this same subject:
    Push or Hold, an article by Paul Howe and Peter Pacillas that was published in TTPOA’s Command Magazine
    After Action Report on the Oakland Tragedy

    Both are PDFs.

    Excellent article,

    1. Absolutely. As LEO’s, most of the time we are used to “taking charge and DOING something”. We also seem to get into a mindset of having to “clear the call” and get onto the next thing. I have even seen some SWAT operations where lone gunman barricades were pushed into entry situations under the logic of “we just can’t wait anymore”. Tell that to some unfortunate widow.

      The Oakland AAR (which I came across on SpartanCops BTW) was on my mind when I wrote this.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. I recall, back in my earliest years, being part of an entry on a barricaded gunman after only two hours of failed contact. It worked out, like things usually do, yet the “what if” would later be a valuable lesson.

  4. I have been on a S.W.A.T. call out for barricaded gunman and had team Sergeant press the command staff to evaluate if we had a crime or just a depressed person at home with a gun. After hours on perimeter we cleared the call because it was determined that no crime had occurred. Patrol later contacted the subject and evaluated him. This could have been a nightmare if an entry had been made and someone was injured or killed. Everyone on a team likes to get work, it is hard to step back and really evaluate the situation.

    If you have to go in, try lots of hot gas first.

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