What Does BZ Mean?

Bravo Zulu when conveyed by flaghoist, morse code, or voice comms at the end of a mission means Well Done. It was introduced between allied forces in World War II.

This blog is a BZ to you.





Behind the Action with Tucson Police SWAT Team

Robin was joined by Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor of the Tucson Police Department. Their discussion gave great insights into the high-stakes world of a specialized SWAT unit. Robin and Jason dove into the daily operations of a SWAT team, as well as how they use D4H to ensure their personnel and equipment are always ready for the next tasking. Whether you're a professional in emergency management or law enforcement, or simply intrigued by the world of SWAT operations, this offers valuable insights and a rare peek behind the scenes of tactical law enforcement.

About Tucson Police SWAT Team

Tucson Police Department is located in the Southeast corner of the State of Arizona in the United States. Tucson is situated amidst a desert terrain with very hot weather year-round, with a population of around one million. Tucson Police Department has between 750 and 800 police officers, with the SWAT team being made up of around 40 officers. Not all SWAT team members are employed full-time within that department; approximately 13 officers serve on the SWAT team on a full-time basis, the remaining officers have additional collateral duties, some of which include detectives, patrol officers, and plainclothes officers. The full-time members of the SWAT team are assigned to the specialized response division based out of the police station in Tucson. The team can respond to calls from the station, their homes, or anywhere else in the city, once two people are located at the station and can have access to their necessary equipment and vehicles.

Tucson Police Vehicle

Responsibilities of the SWAT Unit

The SWAT team works alongside surveillance customers who are investigative and do surveillance for a wide range of entities within the organization, with the primary focus being violent offenders. The surveillance team will confirm and locate targets who are usually suspects wanted for violent crimes and then bring in the SWAT team, briefing them for the apprehension. The team executes apprehensions in diverse settings, including open-air environments, vehicles, houses, and apartments.

Another responsibility of the SWAT team is assisting with barricaded suspects, hostage rescue operations, VIP protection detail during election seasons, and public order supporting mobile field force teams.

The Role of a SWAT Operations Supervisor

Within the Tucson police SWAT team, Jason and his partner serve as full-time SWAT Operations Supervisors. They switch roles monthly, with one handling the administrative operations supervisor responsibilities during their off-month. This involves behind-the-scenes coordination from 8 am to 6 pm. Subsequently, they transition to the swing shift unit, overseeing operations, executing team leader duties, and managing SWAT operations during incidents.

The Tucson SWAT team comprises of an additional five team leaders. They are strategically deployed in operations, assuming roles both as team leaders and operation supervisors as needed.

Roles and responsibilities within Tucson SWAT Team

Tucson SWAT team has a rank structure in place for the different roles of each team member. Those roles include a SWAT Commander who is a Lieutenant in the department and whose job is to oversee the administrative details for the operations and approve the team to respond to each operation. The running of the operations is conducted by the Team Leader Sergeants. Another position within the team is the Senior Operator Role, comparable to the rank of Corporal in the military, they serve as a senior Non-Commissioned Officer, providing guidance to the team and analyzing operation details to ensure they have the necessary equipment. Beyond that, the team has a core group of specialties and the officers will pick one or two specialties to train in, such specialties include; snipers, breachers, medics, and drone pilots. This requires team members to participate in additional training days each month, in addition to their standard annual training schedule.

Tucson SWAT Police team member

Deployment Strategies and Operations of the Tucson SWAT Team

The SWAT team at Tucson PD responds on average to between 215 and 250 operations annually. The team is activated through an initial phone call from a customer, whether it be an investigative customer or a patrol division. The team functions within four geographic divisions, resembling precincts, with each patrol division potentially necessitating SWAT involvement, such as in the case of a barricaded suspect. Collaborating closely with the investigative and surveillance departments, SWAT is summoned through a phone call. Subsequently, SWAT operators trigger team activation via text message, directing members to a staging location or police station for a comprehensive briefing.

It is determined by the SWAT team leaders how many officers from the SWAT team are required to attend each incident, with the average minimum being around twelve officers up to the entire team of forty officers.

Tucson SWAT team briefing

Tucson's SWAT Team Vehicles

The SWAT team primarily engages in fugitive apprehension and warrant service operations, utilizing unmarked vehicles for discretion. The team employs specially equipped vehicles with covert armor, making these unmarked armored vehicles the preferred mode of transportation when responding to certain incidents.

In cases of conventional incidents featuring barricaded suspects, command posts, roadblocks, and police surrounding the property, the SWAT team deploys their marked and armored vehicles. Additionally, the team has access to a substantial equipment truck that can be mobilized to incidents when required.

Tucson SWAT armored vehicle

How Tucson Police SWAT Team Utilizes D4H

Prior to using D4H, Tucson Police SWAT team was struggling to maintain their administrative duties. Up until 2022 the team was using Excel to track their equipment and training.

"It was not meeting our needs by any stretch. We had a homegrown computer program developed with Microsoft Access and it wasn't supporting us any longer, we hit a point where we needed professional help."
— Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor, Tucson Police SWAT Team

This prompted the team to initiate a search for emergency management software, which involved exploring the solutions utilized by multiple SWAT teams in neighboring police departments. Jason and his team reached out to a neighboring agency in the Phoenix Valley, Chandler Police Department, who referred Tucson to the D4H platform.

"It was quite honestly the greatest sales pitch we could have asked for, because it was SWAT guys showing SWAT guys how to use their program, we were able to ask some really direct questions and get some extremely direct answers. Talking to Chandler was great because we were able to ask all our questions and D4H turned out to be exactly what we were looking for which has been awesome."
— Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor, Tucson Police SWAT Team

With D4H, the Tucson SWAT team is using both Equipment Management to track their equipment inventory, and their expendable supplies. The team uses D4H for their after-action reports specific to their ops and then links to the case numbers for their RMS system. The team also uses D4H Personnel & Training to track their operations, team members' qualifications, and completed and missed training exercises throughout the year.

"We used to track everything with pen and paper. Implementing D4H it has been a game-changer."
— Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor, Tucson Police SWAT Team

Another feature used in D4H by the SWAT team is the inspection report for equipment management, the team has set up weekly vehicle inspections.

"Inspections in D4H are a great way of keeping us on track. They make sure our maintenance is good to go, it's a nice way to have a uniform standard."
— Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor, Tucson Police SWAT Team

The Tucson SWAT team have been a customer with D4H since 2023, and they are currently uploading two years' worth of data into their account to ensure their records are up to date.

"For anyone considering purchasing D4H, the onboarding process was fantastic, it included weekly meetings teaching us how to use the program, making it super easy for our team who have varied IT knowledge. The program is easy to use, it is very intuitive, but the onboarding process was next level we didn't expect it and it was great."
— Jason Bredehoft, SWAT Operations Supervisor, Tucson Police SWAT Team

Watch the full interview on Youtube: Watch Now

Listen to the full interview on the D4H Podcast on Spotify


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