Editor's Note: Following a disaster, access to friends and family may be not be as easy as opening a door. Understanding dynamic entry tools and techniques is important. Tactical expert and law enforcement veteran Dave Morelli explains these concepts in this article.
When we think about dynamic entry, which could involve breaching a door or other obstacle, the SWAT operator immediately comes to mind. That’s because, normally the dynamic entry tools needed for breaching a door are not found in the patrol car.
Depending on the department’s policy on handling an emergency entry situation the patrolman might come upon a call where he has the justification of breaching a door to gain entry and need to do it right now, not when SWAT arrives.
I responded to a call one evening to a large tower hotel that security reported a woman screaming for help from one of the rooms. The room was not in the tower but on the second floor of an outside-accessible complex. The doors were steel and the railing was only about 4 feet from the door, making it hard to get a good position for a kick, especially on a steel door.
Security reported that the door was locked with a dead bolt from the inside and could not be opened with a key. We could hear the woman being thrown around and the guy’s response to our verbal commands was that it was a “private matter” and we should go away or he would come out and kick our butts. Well, if he would have come out to do it the problem would have been solved, but he didn’t and continued beating the woman. We decided some sort of entry was necessary and it needed to be immediate.
I asked the security guard if he could get someone from maintenance to bring up a sledge hammer with which we could breecht he door. We continued talking to the guy while security was getting our request. A few minutes later a guy showed up with a huge 3-foot-long pipe wrench that felt like it weighed 50pounds. It was so big I couldn’t get it on the knob and make a twist to break the lock.
So with the woman screaming I revved up the huge wrench and landed a blow just above the knob on the door. It flew open hard and a naked lady with a swollen face and bruises all over her greeted us. There was also a half-naked guy lying on the floor with the tweety birds flying around his head. According to the lady just before we made entry he put his head to the door in attempt to hear what we were doing.
Bad move! Fortunately he was not seriously hurt and it actually improved his attitude, as he was cooperative when he came to. (Knocked some sense into him I guess.)
I think about that call now and then, because part of the situation really was kind of funny. But I also think about how many fewer blows the lady would have had to endure if I had some sort of breaching tools in the patrol car, or at least one of the cars in the area. Come to think of it there were a lot of calls we responded to where some dynamic entry tools would have made life easier.
Back then BLACKHAWK! was just starting out, selling mostly packs and nylon stuff. Today they sell a variety of breaching tools along with other necessities for police, fire and rescue folks to fit just about every occasion. From a SWAT call to fire and rescue, to the individual patrolman on a small department with the need for some breaching tools, BLACKHAWK! has something for everyone. There are rams, pry tools, window rakes and bolt cutters. They even have collapsible products that are lighter and take up less space when stored in the vehicle.
Any burglar will tell you there aren’t many doors that will withstand a well-placed shot from a 3- to 5-pound sledge hammer or even a modest sized pair of channel locks. The problem with the channel locks is you have to stand in front of the door to get any leverage. (Fatal Funnel Syndrome.) A long-handled sledge can be manipulated from well along side the door and opens the door quickly for fast entry.
One of BLACKHAWK!’s entry kits, The Dynamic Duo, has a long-handled sledge and The Breacher, which is a pry type tool with 3 feet of prying torque. The head on the Breacher is a tempered stainless steel wedge that has friction ridges on all contact surfaces that counter angled to the head. This improves stability and reduces slippage during use. The Duo comes in a kit holster made from nylon.
BLACKHAWK! also makes a variety of hallagan tools in many configurations that will get the pry on just about any door. They come in mini tool kits and non-sparking non conductive metals for use when there if fear of fire or explosion. They even carry them in stainless steel. There are even tools specific to mobile home doors which usually open outward. But when it comes right down to it, the most useful and versatile is the ram.