Former SWAT commander: adrenaline, training combine to aid teams

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INDIANAPOLIS — A day after a raid on a southeast side suspected drug house left four officers injured, FOX59 went inside a SWAT team with a former commander.

Maj. Scott Mellinger served as commander of a team in Madison County for six years. He’s now in charge of officer training for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office.

“You have to hope for the best and expect the worst,” Mellinger said.

Mellinger knows a SWAT raid can be fast, loud and unpredictable. As we saw Wednesday, it can also be very dangerous.

“The stress level usually hits the ceiling regardless of the final result,” Mellinger said.

There’s a lot of preparation that officers put in well before they arrive at a target, though.

“It’s somewhat like an athletic team that practices and practices and practices. You can never be too good,” Mellinger said.

That means computer training and real-life training in front of a video screen that acts out different scenarios. When the real thing happens, Mellinger said adrenaline kicks in and you make decisions in a split second. If it’s done right, every move is second nature.

“We’re going into a very dangerous situation, (I think), ‘By God I want to make sure I do this right,'” Mellinger said.

Still, even the toughest of all officers is not immune to what happens after the raid is complete.

“I’ve never known an officer that doesn’t go through some emotional stress after situations like this,” Mellinger said.

So, debriefing and talking becomes as important as the work before the raid. That way, the team is sharp for the next unknown.

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