Once upon a time in a land far away, I carried a gun and a badge to work each day and served the good citizens of our city. Along with eating donuts and drinking coffee, the exceptional professionals of our Police Department were tasked with doing the routine jobs a police officer does, along with the more nasty business others didn’t have the courage or stomach to do. It was my choice to serve, and I would do it all over again because those collective experiences made up the most impactful years of my life.
After proving myself on the job and successfully navigating the selection process, I had the distinct honor of earning a spot on our S.W.A.T. team. Those years were the highlight of my Police career. Our training coordinator had previously served with the Canadian R.C.M.P. and was trained by the British S.A.S. in counter-terrorism, direct action, and hostage rescue. He brought that invaluable experience and knowledge with him to our department and our S.W.A.T. team. There is a saying in tactical and military circles “The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle,” and that intensity and a sense of purpose was an integral element of being on the team. The hard work we did in training served us well on the street and that training is why I am still here today. I flourished there, I was home, and I loved every last second.
Whenever you face intense adversity with others, a bond is forged, and the greater the adversity, the stronger the bond. It’s been thirty years since I left Police work, but I’m still close with many of the people I served with, but there is a special bond with the guys on S.W.A.T..
There is a huge trade show in Las Vegas each January called Shot Show. It’s an industry-only trade show, closed to the general public. The companies displaying their wares service the hunting and outdoor sports industry, but they also service Law Enforcement and Military, which of course, I tend to gravitate too.
Everything imaginable is there, from weapons to boots and everything in between. It’s an enormous feat to get through it all in one day, and most people that attend don’t.
As I strolled the endless aisles alongside a good buddy I visit the show with each year, I was struck by the advances in technology and the equipment available now that wasn’t when I was on S.W.A.T.. The safety equipment is so much better as are the weapons and ammunition and the other tools needed to meet the threat effectively, get the job done, and get home safely.
There is a comfort I feel being there. A sense of belonging and ease, which should feel odd given the time that has passed since this world was my life. But there is a truth about that life – you can leave the work, but good or bad, the work never leaves you.
Since I left Police work, three of the guys I served on S.W.A.T. with have taken their own lives. A couple more have passed due to health reasons. They were guys I was close to, and I think of them often. I would have liked them to be there with me yesterday laughing at the funny stuff, oohing and ahhing the guns and gear, and reminiscing about our time when we were the tip of the spear.
Stu, Neal, Jim, Rick, and Ray, and the rest of the crew. I miss you guys.
And thank you, Heckler and Koch, for making the MP5 that I carried as an entry weapon on S.W.A.T., and so many other great weapons, and for seeing to it that I can enjoy Shot Show each year.