SWAT team members visit 7th PDAC meeting

Some North­east res­id­ents got an up-close and per­son­al look at the city’s SWAT team, but without the ri­ot gear.

On the con­trary, Phil­adelphia Po­lice Capt. Win­ton Sing­let­ary brought only his pub­lic re­la­tions skills to the March 21 meet­ing of the 7th Po­lice Dis­trict Ad­vis­ory Coun­cil, brief­ing mem­bers of the ci­vil­ian group on the many roles that the “Spe­cial Weapons And Tac­tics” unit per­forms to keep the city safe.

Lately — with the school shoot­ing in New­town, Conn., still fresh in the na­tion’s con­scious­ness — SWAT has spent much of its time study­ing strategies for deal­ing with “act­ive shoot­er” situ­ations and teach­ing those pro­to­cols to patrol cops throughout the city.

“Most act­ive shoot­er situ­ations are over in 10 minutes,” said Sing­let­ary, the unit’s com­mand­ing of­ficer. “So by the time my guys get suited up and get there, it’s over.”

In­vari­ably, patrol cops will get to the scene first. That’s why of­ficers in all the city’s dis­tricts, in­clud­ing the 2nd, 7th, 8th and 15th in the North­east, must be equipped with spe­cial weapons and trained to re­spond.

“We’re train­ing the rest of the po­lice de­part­ment on this,” Sing­let­ary said.

There are count­less pos­sible scen­ari­os.

“You could have a ter­ror­ist act­ive shoot­er or you could have a do­mest­ic act­ive shoot­er [in­volving a fam­ily],” Sing­let­ary said. “You could have an em­ploy­ee who got fired or, with a school, you could have a bul­ly­ing situ­ation.”

Act­ive-shoot­er cases are rare, but one oc­curred in the North­east in 2010 when a dis­gruntled Kraft Foods em­ploy­ee shot three co-work­ers at the com­pany’s Roosevelt Boulevard plant. Patrol cops from the 7th and 8th dis­tricts were first in­to the build­ing and cornered the shoot­er, Yvonne Hiller, lead­ing to her ar­rest.

So-called bar­ri­cade situ­ations are more com­mon. That’s when someone bar­ri­cades him­self in­side a build­ing, such as a home or busi­ness, un­der threat of harm­ing him­self or po­lice. Of­ten, the per­son is wanted for a crime or has emo­tion­al prob­lems.

Bar­ri­cade and host­age situ­ations usu­ally take longer to de­vel­op and af­ford SWAT time to re­spond in full gear, in­clud­ing hel­mets, bal­list­ic vests, as­sault weapons and ar­mored vehicles, if ne­ces­sary.

Ac­cord­ing to Sing­let­ary, the SWAT unit is act­ive around the clock. When not in train­ing or re­spond­ing to a ma­jor in­cid­ent, mem­bers patrol in the city’s high-crime areas in sup­port of beat cops in those dis­tricts. They’re dis­tin­guish­able as the of­ficers wear­ing all-black mil­it­ary fa­tigues. Even their badges and uni­form mark­ings are black.

In un­re­lated busi­ness, the 7th PDAC honored Of­ficer Thomas Carpino as the dis­trict’s Feb­ru­ary Of­ficer of the Month for his ar­rest of an al­leged mug­ger. It was the 11th time he has won the hon­or since he trans­ferred in­to the dis­trict in Au­gust 2003. He has twice been the dis­trict’s Of­ficer of the Year.

On Feb. 2 at about 1:45 p.m., Carpino went to the area of Re­gina Street and Kelvin Av­en­ue in Somer­ton in re­sponse to a po­lice ra­dio re­port of a rob­bery in pro­gress. Oth­er of­ficers met the vic­tim, who claimed that she was walk­ing down the street when a man ap­proached her from be­hind and grabbed her purse. The wo­man in­jured her hand when the rob­ber ripped the purse from her.

A short time later, Carpino saw a man fit­ting a de­scrip­tion of the rob­ber walk­ing on the 500 block of Lark­spur St. He de­tained the man, al­low­ing the vic­tim to identi­fy the sus­pect as the rob­ber. Po­lice found the wo­man’s money, driver’s li­cense, cred­it cards and ci­gar­ettes on the sus­pect, as well as a razor knife. Carpino ar­res­ted the man. ••

You can reach at wkenny@bsmphilly.com.

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