Mostly from Boston and area cops. Mostly second-hand. But this is some good context for this morning’s post on the cop shooting in East Boston.
You Gotta Ride
If you get off active duty as a Seal Team Subzero assault team leader and join the Boston PD, you’re probably not going to be on Special Operations (the local flavor of SWAT). That’s not just because there’s an in-crowd that you’re probably not “in,” but also because it’s a love child of the motorcycle platoon. The official party line about the outfit glosses over that …
The Boston Police Special Operations Unit is a specialized unit within the Boston Police Department responsible for combined duties involving Highway Patrol and traffic enforcement, crowd control, and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) services within the city.
One unique feature of the unit is that the Special Operations Unit primarily relies on the use of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and Harley-Davidsons in their daily patrols. The use of motorcycles allows the unit to perform routine traffic enforcement; accompany parades, crowds, and visiting dignitaries; and to quickly travel to situations wherein the unit’s SWAT skills are requested. Specialized trucks and support vehicles are also used to transport equipment and officers when needed.
The Canine unit with twenty seven patrol/narcotics, and EOD dogs, and Bomb (EOD) squad are also under the Special Operations Division.
… but the deal is, you gotta ride if you want to kick doors with the nation’s oldest police department. You gotta check out in the motorcycle platoon, first.
And yes, you have a ticket… please don’t call it a quota… we believe the current term is objective.
It’s All on the Buddy System
Getting into a military special operations element usually requires some kind of selection, qualification or standards-setting rite of passage. Getting into Boston PD Motorcycle and Special Operations? If the unit’s managers think you’re a good guy, you’re in. It helps if you have other coppers in the family, or course. (Well, that’s everywhere. You’ll never stamp it out, and you might not want to, because for every nephew-they-wish-wasn’t, there’s usually three good cops in a cop family).
This has been a shock to some guys who come from military special operations, or from other departments that have high standards for their entry squads, like LAPD’s SWAT or NYPD’s ESD.
There is NO Physical Requirement or PT test
Not for the PD, nor for Special Operations. The unions have fought any attempt to impose such a requirement so long and so vigorously that nobody even brings it up any more.
On the plus side, if you want to get in shape, nobody in the department leadership is going to stop you. More donuts for them!
It’s far from the only police department in this position. One of Boston’s many colleges has a large and generally switched-on police department, where they’re actually taking measures that may be effective should, God forbid, they face an active shooter some day. That department has a physical fitness test. It’s optional. If you opt to take it, and pass — it’s not a high standard — you receive a $2,000 cash bonus. If you fail? You get $150, to apply to a gym membership. An interesting way of motivating cops, to be sure. And more than BPD does.
The Whole City PD has 8 Carbines. Total.
Remember the “gun trucks?” If you built a gun truck, it would probably have rifle racks in it, an ammo locker, and maybe some trained officers, and you’d have them prepositioned for quick access to likely trouble spots.
The Boston Police Department runs two “gun trucks,” with two trained officers in each, per shift. And they just drive around, unless dispatched. And the guns? They have shotguns. And carbines — two each. And their sidearms. And that’s it.
The four carbines in the two gun trucks on the street are it for a city of about three quarters of a million (when the city’s many colleges are in session. The population drops in the summertime).
Four guns, four officers. That’s cosi fan tutte in a city where even the local FBI got turned by organized crime, the Irish Republican Army and its spinoff terrorists find their entire basis of logistical support, bank-armored-truck crews are practically the fifth pro sports team after the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox, and the Islamic Center of Boston is still preaching the gospel that energized the Tsarnaev brothers. Four guns.
Unless a truck is down for maintenance, or an officer is sick. Then you have one truck, and two guns. Thank both Gods that the IRA and the Islamic Center don’t coordinate much.
Bear in Mind
While Boston Police Department’s Special Operations may not be on the cutting edge of organizational effectiveness, and may not be armed and equipped like other major police departments are, bear in mind what happened when two fellow cops were down:
They hooked up and went in to the gunfire, beat the bad guy, and saved their own guys’ lives.
This all seems to have been spontaneous action from guys from the level of sergeant on down. Imagine what they could do with some better gear — and leadership.