What Are Less Lethal Munitions and Methods?
Steve Maynard, Strategic Account Executive at GUARDIAN RFID, worked behind the walls of a correctional facility for nearly 15 years. But where did his story begin? Steve’s father, who used to be a Major with the Sheriff’s Office, helped create and develop the Detention Tactical Team (known as D-TAC) in the early 2000s. Steve would attend training sessions and even jump right in the “Redman suit” (training outfit that can withstand strikes) and act like the inmate for the cell extraction training. He loved being in the cell as the team would enter in a dynamic fashion and go to war. This is where Steve experienced firsthand what it meant to work in this field and understand the tactical aspects of corrections. He soaked up as much experience and information as possible and knew it was his calling. Steve was truly “built for this”.
He followed in his father’s footsteps and became a correctional officer. He began his career as a normal officer working at a linear-style facility in Greensboro, North Carolina, and worked with some of the toughest and most confident officers in corrections. Having experience with D-TAC from a young age, he felt like he seamlessly blended in. After a couple of years, he tried out for the tactical team and passed with flying colors. He felt like he had already been a part of the team for years! The team conducted monthly facility shakedowns and had annual mock-riots, which was their time to shine. Mock-riots included the city police, EMS, fire department, SWAT, city transport (buses), jail medical staff, and the available detention Staff. Several officers would dress like inmates as the tactical team would apply what they have been training for: diminishing fights, riots, medical emergencies, and even evacuating inmates from a fire to an undisclosed offside location. These exercises were the chance to show the other law enforcement officers that D-TAC would need to have their backs if shit was to ever hit the fan.
A couple of years passed, and Steve attended a CERT (Cell Extraction Response Team) class and the Advanced CERT class in Salemburg, North Carolina, at the North Carolina Justice Academy. One of the advanced classes certified operators with less lethal and distraction devices that can be deployed in a corrections setting. Having these devices and launchers so easily on hand, officers were able to respond and quickly de-escalate any given scenario. Sometimes the mere appearance of the team with one member holding a launcher was enough to make the inmate(s) or combative individual(s) give up and comply with orders without the team having to take control hands-on. Mission accomplished.
The D-TAC trained weekly with the less lethal launchers to stay proficient and accurate. Steve eventually became a less lethal instructor and taught his team along with other teams around the nation. Cell extraction is the bulk of the less lethal deployments. It’s powerful to have your taser and electric pulse shield but using those is not your first step of action. First thing is first, give off a warning sign. Asking, ordering, and advising an individual that if they do not comply with orders, then force will be used on them to gain compliance. Once the inmate has been given the opportunity to shape up from the first Less Lethal warning, it’s now fair game. If the inmate fails to comply, deploying three rounds of chemical irritants into a cell usually does the job and the inmate will likely give up.
Although Steve is passionate about less lethal and when to deploy it, how to deploy it and how to document the events in chronological order, his overarching goals are awareness and safety. Don’t abuse what authority you have while working behind the walls and don’t misuse the weapons that are available. Remember no matter what the inmate is doing, they are human beings, and their safety is the number one concern. Sometimes events escalate and things must take place to gain order, but utilize your training, stay calm, control your breathing, and keep your composure. This may save your job, your agency, a lawsuit, and even a life.
Does your facility have less lethal munitions for emergency purposes? If not, maybe it would be wise to send a couple well rounded, disciplined, and poised officers to a certification school. Having this training and knowledge along with the tools in your facility could one day be the difference between life and death. Get your team home safe.