Crime Trackers

Jul 14, 2011 11:44 AM

Behind the scenes with Pima Regional SWAT

TUCSON - The Pima Regional SWAT Team has been in existence since 2004. They're considered among the top SWAT teams in the nation. Some of the members go all over the country teaching SWAT tactics, SWAT philosophy and decision making.

They're considered to be on leading edge of standards. The SWAT team is made up of officers from Oro Valley, Marana, South Tucson, Sahuarita and Pasqua Yaqui Police Departments.

They spend over 500 hours a year training for the worst case scenarios. Their training is reality based, that includes using live ammo.

Captain Don Kester says, "It's been proven to be the best training and the most effective training if we can keep it realistic. So the more realistic, the better they will respond in an actual situation."

They train during the daylight hours as well as in the evening. Captain Kester says, "Our training is very contemporary, very leading edge, and on par with, if not better than, most teams in the United States."

In one of the scenarios, the officers use armored vehicles as shields to protect themselves, should they be involved in a gun battle. They also go inside the armored vehicles and use the gun ports.

Sgt. Jeff Bonds is a 7-year member of the SWAT team, "We try and do things in training to make it as stressful as we can, as difficult as we can to make the guys think as much as we possibly can."

In a computer-generated scenario, officers put to the task their training. A person comes at them in a dimly-lit hallway; the officer has to assess the situation, and decide whether to use lethal force.

The reality-based training not only helps the Pima Regional SWAT team but it also benefits SWAT teams around the country. All in an effort to protect the public.

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