50 years of SWAT: Tom Linn-Lim

Tom Linn-Lim joined the FBI as a special agent in 1976 and was a firearms instructor at the Training Academy in Quantico, Virginia, before moving to the Oklahoma City Field Office. There he served on SWAT from 1990 until he retired in 2001.

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I would want people to know that in SWAT, now, I don't look macho. I'm not a macho guy. But typically they envision—now, physically, back in those days, I was physically very fit. We all had to be because of the challenges and the uniqueness of it, you know, scaling walls and anyway, all those things-rappelling—that we had to do. But they, the, the common image: you say SWAT, you think, okay, you got a six-foot-six bodybuilder, so on and so forth. Not necessarily true. And there's times when you need small-frame people to, uh, navigate through maybe small orifices and what have you.

But I think, the thing they need to keep in mind is it's a dedication. They've gone through a lot to get there in terms of skills. They're committed to save lives. Now in all the movies and what have, you have the image of SWAT saying, “Get this person over in front of the window so we can take them out.” There's times when maybe that's what we need to do, but that's not the goal. The goal is to resolve the dangerous situation and as peacefully as possible. A successful mission is when you bring it to conclusion without anyone getting hurt to include us.

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