Calif.- Today S.W.A.T teams were suited up and ready to go! More than
two-hundred men and women, clad in S.W.A.T gear, came together for the only
S.W.A.T training that also serves a a compeition on the West coast. As budget
cuts force the teams to consolidate, the only S.W.A.T training competition
becomes much more important.
The competition is high-stress and each team has to have precision, agility, concentration, and teamwork. Thirty teams from as far away as Nevada traded secrets at the 21st annual Best in the West S.W.A.T Competition just South of San Jose.
Kurtis Stenderup, Sergeant of Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department, talks about the importance of this annual S.W.A.T competition because teams are "able to learn to see what equipment they are using and how they are doing stuff, so it's a benefit for everybody."
Officers compete and train in six events from obstacle courses to shooting. Officers on S.W.A.T team have to have ninety percent accuracy when it comes to shooting, and this forty-eight hour event tests them to the limits. In the case of a real incident most S.W.A.T teams at the competition only have to worry about covering one city like the Salinas S.W.A.T.
"We know Salinas very well, and a lot of guys have worked in Salinas for a long time in different positions, so there's definitely an advantage of working within one city that you know inside and out", says Captain Dale Fors on Salinas S.W.A.T.
However, a city's own personal S.W.A.T is starting to become a thing of the past due to budget cuts. Cities like Gilroy and Morgan Hill as well as the Monterey Peninsula, and San Luis Obispo have combined officers to make on regional S.W.A.T. Kurt Svardale, Captain of Gilroy-Morgan Hill S.W.A.T, is a part of a regional S.W.A.T that combined just three years ago, and says its benefits are endless, because incidents that S.W.A.T has to respond to are "very, labor, man-power intensive. Smaller cities can benefit from combining forces because when you pull your resources you can double your man power very quickly", says Svardale.