50 Years of SWAT: Steve Tidwell

Steve Tidwell joined the FBI as a special agent in the Dallas Field Office in 1983 before moving on to Mobile and Baltimore, where he was on the divisions’ SWAT teams. He served in a variety of high-level leadership positions, including assistant director in charge of the Los Angeles Field Office and executive assistant director of the Bureau’s Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch (CCRSB) before retiring in 2009.

Video Transcript

We had a an op where we got word from New York that a freighter had come in with a lot of Chinese folks. And they had—they were up on a wiretap. And what was happening was is that the bad guys had a house that they had a whole bunch of them in. And they were requiring more money for the folks, the families that were here, that were getting their getting folks over, relatives over.

And they started—on the wire they could hear them, they started breaking and smashing fingers. So we had gotten ready to go. A good number of us. And at that time, the way that we conducted operations was with shield teams. There would be a shield team at the front. Then an operator would just be with his weapon. And it went shield, operator, shield, operator, shield. And so I was the number-one shield guy. And so they were trying to teach me how to say, “Police, get down” in Chinese. And I still have that cassette recording because the our guys that were on the wire, too, said when the door went down and I started saying it, they said the interpreter started dying, laughing. Evidently. I said something like, “The pig is flying sideways” or something. They couldn't figure it out at all.

What was amazing was it was a vacant house and every room had hostages in it. And what happened when the door went down, the bad guys who had a lot of pistols and weapons, it was so hot, that all of the hostages had their T-shirts off. It was all men.

Well, the bad guys took off their T-shirts and hit the floor, too. And we're hollering. I went upstairs. They're all there's a bunch of them there. And every room was like that. So we were all hollering for each other, “come help me.” “Can't. I got 30 or whatever, 15, 20.” And I'll never forget there was a gentleman, a hostage, that he raised his head enough to that he made eye contact. Because I'm trying to figure out who was closer to that gun and all that. And he was looking at me and he was going [nodding] to the guy next to me. So that was that was a hostage rescue that I never would have anticipated.

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