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Female officer accepted into L.A.'s SWAT training

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  • Female officer accepted into L.A.'s SWAT training

    http://www.dailynews.com/breakingnews/ci_8741438

    ticle Last Updated: 03/29/2008 11:38:27 AM PDT


    A female police officer has been accepted into the Police Department's SWAT training program that could make her the first woman to join the elite group.

    Jennifer Grasso, 36, is one of 13 officers selected for spots in the department's 12-week training school, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, according to an internal department e-mail quoted in a published report.

    A confidential report made public earlier this month said a panel of law enforcement experts sought changes in SWAT testing to make the process more open to women.

    Police Chief William Bratton has not discussed the details of the new selection criteria until the department's civilian oversight commission is briefed on them.

  • #2
    Originally posted by xraodcop View Post
    A confidential report made public earlier this month said a panel of law enforcement experts sought changes in SWAT testing to make the process more open to women.

    Police Chief William Bratton has not discussed the details of the new selection criteria until the department's civilian oversight commission is briefed on them.
    Good for her!

    Hopefully they didn't change anything. SWAT is an elite unit and ALL members need the same abilities male or female.
    This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by deputy x 2 View Post
      Good for her!

      Hopefully they didn't change anything. SWAT is an elite unit and ALL members need the same abilities male or female.
      Unfortunately they did change a whole lot to get her in there.

      http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/...,3865857.story

      Would you rather have an elite fighting force made up of the best cops, or of officers who 'look like L.A.'?

      By Robert C.J. Parry
      March 16, 2008

      On a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 2005, Jose Peña fueled himself with cocaine and grabbed a 9-millimeter pistol. Waving the gun at the head of his 19-month-old daughter, Suzie, he told the LAPD officers who arrived at the scene that he was Tony Montana -- the character played by Al Pacino in "Scarface" -- and that he was going to kill his daughter and himself. He'd already shot at her sister and at the police, so the threat was believable.

      The situation was straightforward: If an LAPD SWAT crisis negotiator couldn't dispel Peña's narcotic fantasies, the little girl's life would rest with a SWAT rescue team's ability to cross a 50-foot alley, access the building, find and enter the room he was in and save Suzie before Peña pulled the trigger.

      Now imagine for a moment that you were in Suzie Peña's position. Would you want the police SWAT team coming through the door to be the best of the best -- the toughest, most highly trained, most elite tacticians in the Los Angeles Police Department -- or would you want the team to "look like L.A."? Would you want rescuers who had not lost a hostage in three decades, or would you want a team with heartwarming, multicultural diversity?

      The answer is pretty obvious, no? You'd want the best. That's what Suzie got, and even so, the results were tragic. According to the L.A. district attorney's office, Jose Peña emerged from the building and a gunfight ensued. When Peña retreated to his office, four SWAT officers crossed the alley in a matter of seconds, entered the building, took fire through the walls -- fire that struck one officer -- and entered Peña's office. There, they exchanged more shots with the gunman, who was standing behind a desk with Suzie. In the chaos, both Jose and Suzie Peña were killed.

      Suzie is the only hostage ever lost by LAPD SWAT during its 35 years.

      Shortly after her death, Police Chief William J. Bratton appointed a board of inquiry to examine the incident. Its mission, he said, was to investigate the officers' tactics and other factors in the shooting. "For the safety of the public and officers, we need to understand intimately what transpired in that incident," he said at the time.

      In fact, the board did nothing of the sort. None of the SWAT officers from the Peña shooting were even interviewed by the panel, according to multiple sources. Indeed, the board's eight members included fewer tactical experts (one) than attorneys (three). In its final report, the board acknowledged that it had been "ultimately precluded from gaining a full and complete understanding of what transpired in Peña until after this report was finalized."


      What's more, Assistant Chief Sharon Papa privately promised the team shortly after the incident that the report would be aired openly, according to officers who were present. That didn't happen either. The final report -- completed 15 months ago -- has not been released. Many senior department officials have never seen it, and Times reporters have repeatedly requested it but have been turned down. I received a copy earlier this month from a source.

      The report shows that instead of fulfilling Bratton's promises, the board used the Peña case (with Bratton's encouragement) as a way to push for a series of politically correct changes within SWAT -- changes that many cops believe will have absolutely no benefit and that they believe will endanger the lives of citizens and cops alike.

      From the start -- before the panel examined any evidence -- Bratton made it clear that increasing SWAT's diversity was particularly important to him. In November 2005, he privately addressed the board about his goals for their inquiry. The final report quotes him: "I'm looking to create change within SWAT. The qualifications to get in are stringent. But are they too stringent? There are no women and few African Americans.... Are there artificial barriers for getting into SWAT that the 'good old boys' network has maintained?"

      Bratton's assertion that SWAT has few African Americans is not accurate. Eight of the 63 SWAT members are black, sources say, -- even after the death of Officer Randal Simmons on Feb. 7. That's 12.6% in a department that is 12% African American.

      Nevertheless, in keeping with Bratton's wishes, the final report devotes substantial space to how to bring in female and black officers. "The absence of women ... and the low number of African Americans in SWAT should be addressed and dealt with, and the membership of SWAT should be reflective of the community," the report says, although it offers no qualitative or quantitative evidence that this change would save a single life or lead to a single suspect's apprehension. The unit, the report says, has become "insular, self-referential and resistant to change."

      The report goes on to say that "there is no task in SWAT that a woman could not perform" and that the selection criteria has "underemphasized negotiating skills, patience, empathy and flexibility while overemphasizing physical prowess and tactical acumen."

      But SWAT officers who have actually entered houses to rescue hostages from killers (as they did Feb. 7 in Winnetka, resulting in the death of Simmonsand the wounding of Officer James Veenstra) say there is no such thing as overemphasizing tactical acumen or physical prowess for such assignments.


      Yes, they say, there are probably women on the force who could and should be admitted to SWAT, but they should be required to meet the same standards as other applicants and should be chosen for skill, not for diversity. The reality, SWAT members say, is that the standards for tactical success apply to everyone equally. Upper-body strength is vital to holding a 12-pound rifle stone-steady to hit a deranged killer while avoiding his hostage in a whirlwind of chaos.


      In general, the final board report offers little or no persuasive evidence as to why SWAT should change. "SWAT performs in a disciplined and exemplary manner consistent with its fine reputation," the report acknowledges. "It has been and remains a source of great pride within the LAPD."

      In fact, according to the report itself, out of 3,771 missions SWAT has performed from 1972 to 2005, suspects have been apprehended without any "untoward" incident in 83% of the cases. (The report does not define "untoward.") It notes that SWAT members have killed a suspect only 31 times in 33 years -- that's less than 1% of all engagements, often with the city's most deranged and violent criminals.

      What's more, SWAT has lost only one hostage -- Suzie Peña -- and the way to ensure it doesn't happen again is to maintain and raise standards, not to lower them out of political correctness.

      None of that matters, though, to the brass. "Bratton wants a woman on SWAT regardless of whether she's 110 pounds soaking wet and completely incapable of pulling 200 pounds of Jimmy Veenstra and his gear out of a house in the middle of a gunfight," said one officer who survived the Winnetka shootout in which Veenstra was extracted by his teammates while under fire.


      Based on the findings of the report, the LAPD has just instituted a new selection process for SWAT, according to a SWAT veteran who helped in the redesign. Instead of picking cops on the basis of their ability to handle weapons and stress, the new standards specifically exclude video-based shooting simulator evaluations and "Hogan's Alley," a daunting series of pop-up targets representing armed crooks and hostages. A simulated raid with flash-bang devices that previously disqualified many candidates who accidentally shot the "hostage" is also gone.


      The new test's only physical challenges are a modest physical fitness qualification and a modified obstacle course. "My preteen daughter could pass that," one officer said. Applicants' scores will now largely come from an oral interview conducted by non-SWAT and non-LAPD supervisors. In essence, the test is largely subjective.

      Another coming change that SWAT officers criticize is one that would allow officers from anywhere in the department to apply to SWAT, rather than limiting it (as it has historically been limited) to officers from the elite Metropolitan Division. SWAT had argued to the board that continued selection from Metro was "a nearly fail-safe way to select the best of the best," and the final board report acknowledged that using only applicants from Metro "has produced remarkable cohesion, consistency, mutual trust and commonality of outlook."

      But the board of inquiry ultimately claimed that including people from other divisions "could bring a wider perspective and greater gender and racial diversity." So the plan to broaden the pool of applicants is expected to go into effect next year.

      There are a variety of innocuous recommendations in the board report, such as improvements in risk management, trend analysis and data analysis. The report calls for new accountability measures, including "Compstat-like accountability." (Compstat is Bratton's signature system for tracking crime trends.) The report also recommends providing all personnel with take-home cars, something the team has requested for years.

      But it is the change in the selection process and the opening up of SWAT to applicants from outside Metro that have motivated SWAT officers' wives to launch an unusual e-mail campaign directed at Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, stating in part: "We are concerned with the safety of our husbands ... if they are expected to go into these highly dangerous situations with someone who got in under a compromised standard."

      The report says, "SWAT culture and insularity pose a certain danger to the LAPD and the Los Angeles community as a whole." But the report is based on misconceptions.

      SWAT is not a lily-white redoubt of old prejudices. Simmons and Veenstra (who is of Asian ancestry) illustrate this. Suzie Peña's attempted rescuers had names like Perez, Sanchez and Gallegos. Bratton may not know this; at the annual SWAT dinner, I saw him come in and talk to a couple of senior managers and deputy chiefs for 30 minutes and then leave, having barely acknowledged the officers -- black, white, Latino or otherwise. That evening, he forfeited his last chance to talk to Simmons, who died 10 days later.

      SWAT is too important to this city to be weakened in the name of political correctness. Unless the Police Commission or other officials act, the LAPD will make social experimentation a higher priority than tactical excellence.

      Robert C.J. Parry is a businessman working on a book about his experiences in the Army National Guard in Iraq.

      Comment


      • #4
        Truly sad.

        SWAT members should be the best of the best. A house is can only withstand the storm if it is built on a good foundation.

        An oral? Judged by non SWAT and non LAPD supervisors?
        This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

        Comment


        • #5
          They lowered the standards.....ALOT......

          One of several reasons that Bratton is becoming as hated as Parks was.....never thought I would see that day......
          The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

          "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

          "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

          Comment


          • #6
            Give the girl a chance. Just because HE lowered the standards doesn't mean that she can't perform beyond them and as well as the men.

            Now, having said that...not me. I wouldn't do it. Wanting to be SWAT wouldn't be worth putting up with a bunch of men that don't want me there. She could be as good as them if not better, but I don't think they'll ever cut her some slack. It matters very little if she can do the job physically because IMHO, that's still very much a good ole boys club and they don't want the girls there. Fair? Doesn't matter...fair or not, I think it's the reality.
            sigpic

            I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
              Give the girl a chance. Just because HE lowered the standards doesn't mean that she can't perform beyond them and as well as the men.

              Now, having said that...not me. I wouldn't do it. Wanting to be SWAT wouldn't be worth putting up with a bunch of men that don't want me there. She could be as good as them if not better, but I don't think they'll ever cut her some slack. It matters very little if she can do the job physically because IMHO, that's still very much a good ole boys club and they don't want the girls there. Fair? Doesn't matter...fair or not, I think it's the reality.
              She's fighting an uphill battle. No matter how capable she is, that "lower standards" will always be held over her head.

              Our SWAT/SRU team has only had three females. (ALL CAPABLE) No standards were lowered and they were treated like one of the guys. As long as you can hold your own...the guys don't have a problem.
              This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                Give the girl a chance. Just because HE lowered the standards doesn't mean that she can't perform beyond them and as well as the men.

                Now, having said that...not me. I wouldn't do it. Wanting to be SWAT wouldn't be worth putting up with a bunch of men that don't want me there. She could be as good as them if not better, but I don't think they'll ever cut her some slack. It matters very little if she can do the job physically because IMHO, that's still very much a good ole boys club and they don't want the girls there. Fair? Doesn't matter...fair or not, I think it's the reality.
                I would be more than happy to give any Officer a chance IF they passed the standards as they originally stood........a large chunk of the MALE candidates failed selection,,,,the standards are there for a reason....Most people cant pass the tests (I know I cant,,,,,and SEB was one of my dream jobs when I started.....my career path has taken me elsewhere.....I'm not going to sit and whine about the standards being too high)

                LASD SEB/SWT has female Deputies....that passed all of the tests.....there is even one over at ESD (search and rescue),,,,passed even harder tests....
                The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by LA DEP View Post
                  I would be more than happy to give any Officer a chance IF they passed the standards as they originally stood........a large chunk of the MALE candidates failed selection,,,,the standards are there for a reason....Most people cant pass the tests (I know I cant,,,,,and SEB was one of my dream jobs when I started.....my career path has taken me elsewhere.....I'm not going to sit and whine about the standards being too high)

                  LASD SEB/SWT has female Deputies....that passed all of the tests.....there is even one over at ESD (search and rescue),,,,passed even harder tests....
                  I agree 100%.
                  This profession is not for people looking for positive reinforcement from the public. Very often it can be a thankless job and you can't desire accolades, because those are not usually forthcoming. Just do your job to the best of your ability and live with the decisions you've made.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    That's what I said. Just because standards are lowered doesn't mean she can't still hold her own with the men. A standard is merely what is required, not necessarily what level you perform.

                    I agree however, that it doesn't matter if she is as good as [fill in the blank] that lowered standard will always be what others see.
                    sigpic

                    I don't agree with your opinion, but I respect its straightforwardness in terms of wrongness.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      .............
                      Last edited by Chit2001; 03-31-2008, 12:59 AM.
                      1*

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Smurfette_76 View Post
                        That's what I said. Just because standards are lowered doesn't mean she can't still hold her own with the men. A standard is merely what is required, not necessarily what level you perform.

                        I agree however, that it doesn't matter if she is as good as [fill in the blank] that lowered standard will always be what others see.
                        smurfette,

                        If she had made it in BEFORE this bruhaha, then she probably would have been ok.....now, she could be supergirl, and few will accept that she would have passed anyway.....

                        SWAT in LA is no joke.....one of the reasons that they have lost ONE in the entire time of the team is because of the standards, and the amount of training they do.....LASD has also only lost one (that I know of) during an entry.....we have lost 1-2 others in non-entry confrontations.......not for a lack of trying on the suspects' part though.....
                        The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

                        "Politicians are like diapers. They need to be changed often and for the same reason"

                        "We fight not for glory; nor for wealth; nor honor, but only and alone we fight for freedom, which no good man surrenders but with his life"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          This is from the LA Times on March 29th...

                          LOS ANGELES, CA – A highly regarded female police officer has been accepted into the training program for the Los Angeles Police Department’s SWAT unit, clearing a major hurdle toward becoming the first woman officer to join the elite, insular group since its formation more than 35 years ago.

                          Jennifer Grasso, 36, is one of 13 LAPD officers selected for spots in the department’s 12-week training school, which is scheduled to begin on Monday, according to an internal LAPD email obtained by The Times.

                          Grasso and the rest of the hopefuls were chosen amid controversy over a newly devised regimen that did away with many grueling endurance tests and exacting simulation exercises that had been used to pre-qualify candidates for Special Weapons and Tactics Team training in the past. The new selection criteria angered many current SWAT officers, who accused Police Chief William J. Bratton and his command staff of watering down the process in order to make it easier for a woman to join the demanding unit, which specializes in resolving standoffs with barricaded suspects and other high-risk operations.

                          But it appears Grasso has avoided the uncomfortable prospect of coming into SWAT school under a cloud of suspicion. Several SWAT officers, who spoke on the condition that their names not be used because they are not authorized to discuss the matter, said they continue to harbor doubts about the new tests, but are impressed with Grasso and would welcome her onto the team.

                          “Physically, she’s a dynamo and tactically she’s very solid,” said one SWAT veteran. “She’d be a good selection.”

                          Grasso declined to be interviewed, but her supervisor, Sgt. Andrea Balter, said Grasso ranks as one of the most impressive officers in C Platoon, another specialized unit in the department’s Metro Division that is often deployed to quell violent crime. Few in the unit make more arrests than Grasso, who, with her partner, is known particularly for gun seizures, Balter said.

                          “I can’t sing her praises nearly enough,” said Balter. “She is completely committed to the community - the city - and to putting bad guys in jail.”

                          Grasso won the hard-earned praise of current SWAT officers in large part because of her strong performance during tryouts last year. She was nearing acceptance to SWAT school when she badly injured her knee during one of the final tests on a Marine obstacle course at Camp Pendleton. If she had not proved her mettle then, several SWAT officers said, they would be more skeptical of Grasso’s abilities.

                          It was Grasso’s injury and similar ones suffered by her male counterparts that led department officials, in part, to question whether the punishing Marine courses were excessively arduous for vetting SWAT prospects. A panel of outside experts convened by Bratton to examine SWAT practices also pushed the department to change, concluding that the old tests were “over-emphasizing physical prowess and tactical acumen.”

                          The subsequent decision by Bratton and his commanders to amend the SWAT selection criteria set off strong protests by SWAT members, who said the tests were needed to determine whether an officer could handle the stress and demands of the job. The Police Protective League, which represents the department’s 9,300 rank-and-file officers, also intervened, accusing the department in an unfair labor practices claim of failing to consult the union before making the changes.

                          Keen to counter barbs this week by Bratton that the union has been more interested in protecting the status quo than in the rights of female officers, union President Tim Sands said Grasso is “very highly qualified and I wish her the best of luck.”

                          Bratton, who could not be reached for comment, and SWAT supervisors have refused to discuss the details of the new selection criteria until the department’s civilian oversight commission is briefed on them. Bratton has nonetheless made clear his displeasure that no woman has ever served in SWAT since its official formation in 1971, and his determination to bring an end to the remaining bastions of male dominance in the department before he departs.

                          This year, Grasso and the other SWAT applicants had to pass a long-standing physical fitness test that includes a three-mile run, sit-ups, push-ups, pull-ups and an obstacle course. They also underwent oral exams and background checks, according to department officials and current SWAT officers who had been briefed on the changes.

                          Admission to SWAT school, and even completion of the training, does not guarantee Grasso or other trainees one of the 60 places in the unit. Balter and others said there are reportedly only about six open spots; it is unclear whether the candidates will be winnowed or placed on a waiting list.

                          Grasso’s push to break into SWAT resonated with Nina Acosta, who in 1994 sued the LAPD, saying that she had been unfairly denied admission to the unit because of her gender. The department eventually agreed to let in Acosta, who at the time had the married name Damianakes, but she refused and resigned from the force altogether.

                          “It’s about time,” she said. “I hope the department supports her 100%. And I hope she has nerves of steel.”


                          Maybe someone from LAPD can comment on Officer Grasso, but from what I read she seems like she would have made it under the old standards. Personally, I don't care if your male or female, the only thing that matters to me is that you can do the job and can help me when the s**t hits the fan.

                          Just my 2 cents though.
                          "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who have died. Rather, we should thank God such men lived." ~ General George Patton

                          "It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is thus shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope." ~ Robert Kennedy

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I spoke to a buddy of mine who is on our SWAT Team. He said she was really doing well on all the tests when she hurt her knee. From what he tells me, she is very qualified and would be an asset to the team. More power to her!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Ive worked with her on a limited basis. I think she'll do very well in swat and be an asset.
                              LAPD

                              Comment

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