Basic SWAT class emphasizes team-building and physical conditioning

5/29/2002 12:00 AM

Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams aren’t built in a day—but they can be built in a week.

That’s what 25 graduates of a Basic SWAT class held at TEEX discovered.

Officer John Rospigliosi of the Dallas Police Department said the most valuable part of the training was learning to rely on your team members. “I learned that you have to be there for your team and your team will be there for you,” said Rospigliosi, who has been an officer for seven years and recently joined the Dallas Police Department SWAT team.

“The training was very realistic, at least as realistic as you can get with training. They tried to set it up so you didn’t know what to expect, and that’s the way it works in the real world. I learned a lot and the class was very thorough.”

Officer Matthew Wasko of Fort Worth, a 13-year veteran of police work, said the class excelled in team-building. “They put together people who didn’t know each other and made teams out them. That was a tremendous benefit in the practical exercises we did.”

Wasko, who has been with the Fort Worth Police Department Gang Unit for five years, said the instructors brought their “knowledge and experience” to the class. “The class was fantastic. It helps to learn how other people are doing things. It helps you reevaluate what you’re doing to see if you can make it better. You can never have enough training.”

Students in the Basic SWAT class learned perimeter control, dynamic entry, diversionary equipment, dynamics of breaching and entry of houses and physical conditioning, said course coordinator Dean Kuznieski of the TEEX Law Enforcement and Security Training Division. “But more importantly, the students were assigned to a team,” he said. “They did everything in class as a team and that included eating together and even going to the restroom together.”

The newly restructured course is geared for the new SWAT officer and focuses more on the basics and physical demands of the job, Kuznieski added. Some of the students were surprised at the physical training aspect of the class, which included a requirement that students run a 2-mile course in 18 minutes. Wasko admitted he had not done “physical training like this since the Air Force.” But Kuznieski says good physical conditioning is required to safely perform the types of tactical work required of a SWAT team member.

The course was taught in conjunction with the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association (TTPOA), using their standardized curriculum. “They offer good, quality training that meets TEEX standards,” Kuznieski said. “And the instructors are TCLEOSE-certified and all three instructors currently serve as SWAT team officers.

“I think we’ve got a winning partnership here,” he added. “I’d like to eventually take our training national, but first I’d like to add some equipment and expand our training facilities.”

Kuznieski said while current facilities at the Riverside Campus meet the standards for Basic SWAT training, in order to effectively teach intermediate and advanced classes, he would like to add an obstacle course, rappelling tower and indoor shooting range, for starters.

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