Correctional breaching plans in 6 steps

Correctional breachers have the opportunity to plan ahead and access to a lot of information about construction materials, location of utilities, design standards, previous construction plans, and more


Whether you are a breacher on the street or in a prison, breaching plans are a necessary part of the job. But, there are differences. On the street, breachers are often going in blind. It is impossible to have a plan for every house in the city. Sure, there are some basic floor plans available from the county assessor, but a breacher will still have to drive by and do a little reconnaissance once the target has been identified. You can learn a lot from the outside about points of entry, obstacles, and swing direction on outer doors, but do you know construction materials, interior layout or potential hazard areas?

As a correctional breacher, there are two big advantages: planning and access. Correctional breachers have the opportunity to plan ahead and access to a lot of information about construction materials, location of utilities, design standards, previous construction plans, and more. When developing your written plans, don’t forget your locksmith, general foreman, engineers, and maintenance personnel. They can save you a lot of time and give you a head start. But, where do you start? Here are six steps to developing breaching plans you can use for your institution.

The six steps to develop your breaching plans are:

1. Define Areas
2. Develop Written Plans
3. Train Videographer
4. Video Areas
5. Catalog
6. Review/Train Breach Team

Let's assess each in detail. 

1. Define Areas: The first step to developing your breaching plans is to define the areas you are developing plans for. Meet with your CERT team leaders to define the areas of the institution to be included in the breach plans. Your department could decide to develop plans for only areas inmates have access or plans for any area inside the secure perimeter. Whatever the decision, make sure the areas to be included are defined ahead of time.

2. Develop Written Plans: The next step is to develop breach plans for each of the areas identified. These breach plans should include information about construction of the area or building identified. What is the fire rating of the doors? What are the walls constructed from? The ceilings? The floors? What are some of the hazards? You may be surprised at some of the information you will find. When developing your written plans, don’t forget your locksmith, general foreman, engineers, and maintenance personnel. They can save you a lot of time and give you a head start on your plans.

While developing breaching plans for the medical building at our institution, I discovered oxygen lines in the wall right next to a door frame that led to a range of cells. This is need to know information if you are planning to make entry with an exothermic torch!

3. Train Videographer: This is where we have one of the biggest advantages. Rarely can a residential breaching team have access to actual video of the place they are going to breach. Whether using video or still pictures, there are three main things that need to be done. 

One, the video needs to be methodical, and it needs to complete. Every room, every maintenance area, every tunnel and every catwalk needs to be filmed. There is no way to plan for which areas will be needed when the time comes. 

Second, take the time to train the person(s) who will be filming each area. Each room needs to be filmed separately and slowly. Teach them how to pan the camera smoothly without jumping around. 

Finally, video operators tend to rush when filming, teach them about timing by having them do some test films. You and the video operator can then sit down and review the video together. 

4. Video Areas: Have the videographer state at the beginning of each section the area, date and time. “October 26, 2014, Classroom #3, Education Building” Each room should be filmed exactly the same. Start to the left and work slowly around the room. If possible pre-stage areas with closet doors open, electrical panels labelled, personal items moved out of view. 

Although personal items should be limited in a prison setting, make sure that any personal pictures and cartoons are moved before filming.

5. Catalog: All videos needs to be cataloged correctly. Your videos are useless if you cannot find what you need in an emergency. Catalog as you go — don’t wait to catch up at the end. Remember to store the plans and videos in a secure area. A good idea for long term storage is a fire safe. This allows safety as well as controlled access to the plans. 

6. Review/Train Breach Team: Once everything is written, videoed and cataloged, it is time to share this with your CERT Team. They need a working knowledge of what information is available as well as where it can be accessed during an incident. Don’t just know they are there, bring them out and make them part of the training. Develop scenarios for your team that incorporate a review and use of all parts of the breaching plans.

It will be worth every minute spent and more when the time comes for your team to make that entry. They will be safer and better prepared going through that door.

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