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SWAT trainer describes how police would search for ex-LAPD officer

By Jed Boal | Posted - Feb 8th, 2013 @ 6:15pm

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OGDEN — Searchers in California have lost track of former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. They are now searching door-to-door for the dangerous sniper who's hunting police officers and their families.

"This is as extreme as a gets," Randy Watt said, who trains SWAT teams across the country, and is a Colonel in the Utah National Guard.

As a former assistant police chief with Ogden P.D., he knows how to lead this kind of manhunt, and knows the dangers that a man with tactical training presents.

"My first priority is find him," Watt said. "If I can find him, I can essentially get him trapped in an area where he can't move. I've got to stop his mobility."

Dorner is suspected of killing a former LAPD captain's daughter, her fiance and a Riverside police officer. He's also suspected of wounding two other officers. Dorner posted a 14-page manifesto online vowing revenge for his 2008 firing from the LAPD.

"This guy is on the hunt," Watt said. "He's as dangerous as they get."

More than 100 officers, including SWAT teams, were driven in glass-enclosed snow machines and armored personnel carriers to hunt for Dorner. As we've seen over the last 36 hours, an accused killer with police and military training presents serious dangers to the public, and the professionals trying to track him.

"When you are facing one of your own, who has an understanding of your tactics techniques and procedures, you're very, very concerned," Watt said. "When someone like that goes rogue, they have a pretty good understanding of how you're going to act, and therefore they can counter it."

Until police find Dorner, Watt points out they cannot put together a tactical plan to deal with him.

"He's got the advantage of mobility. He can attack anywhere and at any time, and he's got the element of surprise on his side," Watt said.

That heightens the fear for police, who have already mistakenly shot and injured innocent people when they fired on a truck that looks like Dorner's. Each hour the hunt goes on, Watt said that the anxiety level rises, while the rest of their police work continues.

"The average police officer in the field is going from call to call," he said. "The officer doesn't know if it's a real call, or if it's this guy calling in and setting something up so he can kill another police officer."

Watt also believes Dorner has little to lose by killing more people, even though he hopes that can be avoided.

"After the first homicide, what's his level of risk for another one?" Watt said.

If police can find Dorner, and box him in, negotiations could be the key to a peaceful resolution.

"I think he might be laying low, planning his next move. But, I do not see him surrendering peacefully."

"You just want to do a lot of background on him, a lot of homework on him," said Lt. Mark Lowther, a hostage negotiator with the Weber County Sheriff's Office. "Try to get inside his head, and figure out what he's after."

Dorner posted a lengthy manifesto on Facebook, mailed documents to CNN, and threatened to kill in public. That gives the negotiator important information about Dorner's motivation.

"He's trying to shout from the rooftops, to state his cause that he's been wronged," Lowther said.

For that reason, the hostage negotiator fears Dorner won't go quietly.

"I think he might be laying low, planning his next move. But, I do not see him surrendering peacefully," Lowther said. "I hope he does, and it's definitely a possibility. But, in this line of work the suspect always dictates what happens."

It's also personal for Watt, he's trained with LA SWAT, and has friends in that organization.

"We're family," he said, echoing the feelings of many in law enforcement across the state.


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