SWAT team uses tactics, special equipment to resolve difficult situations
Aug 29, 2017 10:26AM
● By Jana Klopsch
Officer Jason Mudrock shows the SWAT team’s armored vehicle. (Ruth Hendricks / City Journals)
Midvale Police Chief Jason Mazuran introduced Jason Mudrock, who is in charge of the SWAT team, to the Midvale City Council in March.
“Having an excellent SWAT team available is essential to the safety of the police department,” said Mazuran. “SWAT teams are expensive, but when you need them, you must have them. They have to be able to go in and resolve those difficult situations.”
Mudrock discussed the way his agency is organized.
“We’re a collateral team, which means there’s one full-time team leader, which is me. The remainder of our operators are collaterally assigned to SWAT. That means they have primary assignments in other divisions.”
Mudrock said currently there are two officers assigned to the Midvale precinct, two in Wasatch, and three in the Oquirrh area. When SWAT is called out, those officers leave their primary positions to come in as a secondary assignment.
An advantage to using this system is that SWAT officers are already working and able to respond with their equipment, training and knowledge. They can work to resolve the situation immediately.
“Currently, our team is outfitted for 45 people,” said Mudrock.
“With that, we have the Unified Fire Authority, where we have 10 tactical paramedics assigned to the team, so we can have advanced life support with us on every operation,” he said.
The SWAT commander and team leader run the operation from inside a vehicle used as the command center. Less lethal weapons can be used to fire projectiles such as foam or wood batons from a launcher, or skip rounds can be skipped off the ground to hit a suspect in the lower body. These can be used at a distance to protect the officers.
“We also have other specialties in the group,” Mudrock said. “We have dynamic breachers who can scientifically use the least amount of explosives to eliminate a barrier. We use them on fences, windows and doors for distractions.”
The breachers are skilled in determining the door structure. They’ll use different types of explosives to facilitate a breach. The structure of the door determines where and how the explosives are placed.
“They’ve got it down to such a science that they can remove the door hinges, make it spin once and fall,” he noted.
Mudrock showed the team’s armored vehicle, used since 2009. It functions as the equipment truck and tactical command vehicle. Large tools are kept in the truck. This includes manual rams, saws to cut through metal, a chain saw for a wooden door, and a special wrench to turn off natural gas.
The team leader can write information on a Smart Board on the outside of the vehicle, which will show on another Smart Board inside. Emailed pictures can also be posted.
Officers can watch the local news on a TV inside. Sometimes live chopper shots can compromise the operation if the suspect is also watching the news. “If Channel 5 is showing our approach, we can call and ask them to cut their feed,” he said.
People often ask why SWAT needs an armored vehicle.
“I can tell you that this has probably saved more lives than anything. When this pulls up, it does look intimidating, and that’s part of it. It sometimes elicits a surrender when people realize we are serious,” he said.
It also affords officers a safe platform. The vests officers wear are only designed to stop handgun bullets. The vehicle will stop multiple rounds up to .50 caliber.
A main purpose of the vehicle is citizen evacuation.
“So when shots are fired and we need to pull the family out of the house, we can back it up to the driveway and tell people to hop in so we can get them to safety,” he said. “Now we don’t have to worry about them being picked off by a gunman. We have 360 degrees of protection for the citizens.”
“This has really been a game changer for us,” Mudrock said. “And the good thing about it is there was no taxpayer cost; the $350,000 came from a private donation. You can’t put a price on how many lives it has saved.”