registerguard.com has a story on a $600k lawsuit brought by Officer Brian Hagen against the city of Eugene, Oregon. Hagen says he was punished for raising safety concerns about the city’s SWAT team. Testifying in court, Hagen and two brother officers “described two instances in the 1990s in which a SWAT officer shot himself in the foot with a machine gun and a sniper’s weapon discharged through the floor of an armored police vehicle, as well as a 2007 incident in which a SWAT officer’s weapon discharged into the ground as he was putting it away in his vehicle. Hagen testified that he was so close to that discharge that his ears rang for several hours afterward . . . Another time, he testified, he heard SWAT team members joking about a sergeant’s gun accidentally discharging when he was trying to fire off a flash grenade.” It gets worse . . .

Sgt. Thomas Schulke said he was also kicked off SWAT for raising the alarm on firearms safety.

Schulke refused to call the unintended weapon firings accidents, saying some SWAT team members showed less proficiency at gun safety “than a teenager coming out of a hunter’s safety class.”

“Their guns were pointed in the wrong direction at times, the safety was off, the status was not known,” he said. “They were negligent in not following basic firearms skills.”

He recounted participating in a training exercise in which officers lined up to prepare to search a building.

“Everyone was ready to go, and I looked around and saw a machine gun pointed at the back of my head,” Schulke testified. “I confronted him, and he said, ‘That’s how we do it.’ I got out of the exercise and went to the captain and complained.”

Schulke also described the Eugene Police Department as having a culture in which officers were mocked for raising safety concerns.

TTAG has highlighted the dangers of a militarized police force on many occasions. Add SWAT safety and proficiency to the list.

Think of it this way: if the Eugene SWAT team is creating and dismissing negligent discharges during training, what’s their firearms safety like during a no-kock raid? While society needs properly trained and equipped law enforcement, we can’t afford this type of over-the-top gung-ho policing. On any level.

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28 Responses to Eugene (OR) SWAT Safety Fail

  1. While I know what you really mean to say, The “Military Mindset” has never, nor does it now, allow for such capricious weapons handling. The “militarization” of American Police forces is indeed, despicable, but the Eugene PD seems more to be a bunch of “Barnies”- very dangerous Barnies indeed.

  2. When the state grants one group of people essentially unquestioned power of life and death over people they become progressively move casual about exercising it. I don’t have any statistics but I’m guessing you can count on one hand the number of times police “officers” are punished for killing “civilians”.

  3. “Think of it this way: if the Eugene SWAT team is creating and dismissing negligent discharges during training, what’s their firearms safety like during a no-kock raid? While society needs properly trained and equipped law enforcement, we can’t afford this type of over-the-top gung-ho policing. On any level.”

    My first thought was these guys will need 3 or more rounds to kill the dog when they enter. Sorry for my twisted sense of humor. Over all, this is indeed scray, especially when the guy that points out the lack of safety gets punished. They may not all be Barneys, but sure sounds like the commander is a Barney. Institutionalized poor safety comes from the top down.

  4. “… what’s their firearms safety like during a no-kock raid?”

    Are you calling them dickless wonders? 😉

  5. I swear to God, I’ve never seen another group of people so saturated with “Mall Ninjas” than SWAT teams in general and small town SWAT teams specifically. And this is coming from someone who hangs out on gun blogs and forums all day.

    I mean SERIOUSLY, a ghille suit? Full battle rattle and an M-4? A F#$@ING APC?

    Who and where do these guys think they are? Delta Force in an Iranian nuke facility?

    [/rant]

    • I agree with you, Derek. It’s a question of inadequate training or inappropriate training. Upper management and policy people should be able to do something about this.

  6. This bit isn’t a joke, but a serious problem. Skillful communications and perimeter management have apparently been de-emphasized. The reason these guys too often end up acting like mall ninjas is specifically because they are NOT military. They are not going up against a well-armed adversary in an environment full of threats and they know it. Rather they are generally being tasked to approach a very localized and immobile threat such as a high-risk warrant. More capable weapons demand greater alertness and safety, not less. Having a safety off inside a vehicle (chopper, APC) except when returning fire is unbelievable. They don’t value the lives of their buds? Then how about the threat of lawsuits and therefore taxpayer losses? This is entirely a supervisory failure, and that’s where the blame and penalties should fall.

  7. last paragraph: “what’s their firearms safety like during a no-kock raid?”

    Well, I guess instead of having guns pointed at a fellow officer’s head, they point it at the crotch.

  8. Why are these retards kitted out like they’re an SF ODG getting ready to embark on a 3 week long foot patrol through contested territory?
    SWAT to my understanding is supposed to be like bringing a nuke to a knife fight when employed, they resolve the situation with over-whelming force and rapid dominance tactics then cuff the baddies and GTFO. If they’re in a hostage or other type of siege situation one would assume them to have the kind of logistical and strategic superiority to establish supply lines so shouldn’t they move fast and light? Why does this fuck-tard have an assault pack and a damn ghillie suit? IF they are going into some serious army type shit then where is the other moron’s fucking kevlar head-cover?

  9. embarassing…completely embarassing. perhaps they should spend a month retraining with the LAPD or FBI HRT.

  10. If they are that careless with their own lives, imagine how much less careful they would be with the lives of others. BTW, nothing wrong with police using military equipment and tactics in specialized situations. The problem is that they are having significant difficulties remembering that there is a constitution and bill of rights and that that 99% of the people they deal with are law abiding, upstanding citizens, who would come to their aid at a moments notice.

    They, are making themselves the enemy in many locales. Then there are the cover-ups that ensue every time they shoot an innocent but that would simply indicate that contempt of the citizen and corruption extends well past the uniform level. In fact I would contend that those people actually like the fact that they now have the ability to project force as they desire and get away with it.

  11. The approach was as stealthy as a NASCAR race.
    Above post “…that 99% of the people they deal with are law abiding, upstanding citizens, who would come to their aid at a moments notice. ” No, anybody with good sense would GFOD with all possible alacrity. I would be terrified to be within range when these “operators” swing into action. From the video it was only by the grace of God that no peons or dogs were harmed.

  12. Sad that some of the EPD SWAT best shots were when they shot themselves. Their “Commander,” Lt Jen Bills has never spent one day as a SWAT officer, or even as a field training officer, before she took command of SWAT. And during times when the city is cutting services left and right due to budget cuts, EPD SWAT spends money on equipment and training like it falls out of trees. Just ask the chief what the exact SWAT budget is and see if he can give an honest answer. I wonder if the EPD commanders will be investigated for their sworn statements during the Hagen trial. Even if it is a civil trial, they gave contradicting, if not questionable, statements while representing the police department. The fix will be to promote Lt Jen Bills to Captain, and then punish the other K-9 officers that testified for Hagen.

  13. Don’t you guys know that Eugene is full of Hippies? And one thing I’ve learned from TTAG is that Hippies and other suspect types deserve to die. So quit your wussy bitchin’ about safety. Kill those hippies!

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