As much as continuous training and realistic simulations are essential for members of the full-time SWAT Team in Lafayette Parish, learning out on the job is even more important.
"One thing the sheriff really wanted to implement with the full-time SWAT team was to make sure that we are able to respond to any type of shooting or any type of active killer in the parish, especially dealing with schools, and we know how big that’s getting right now," said Staff Sgt. Chris Guidry, Deputy Commander of the SWAT Team at LPSO.
Sheriff Mark Garber said most of the team’s work is done while the public carries on with daily life as usual.
"The benefit to the public is that you have eight people who are highly trained, excellently equipped, who are riding around during most of the day when we’re going about our business. When you’re at the store when your kids are at school, we are ready to respond to that extreme incident," said Garber.
Like nearly every SWAT team in the U.S., a big part of their job is serving search and arrest warrants throughout the parish.
"Just going to go and organize some warrants and figure out which ones we’re going to serve next," said Guidry during a day of serving warrants.
Operators take time to research each warrant and subject carefully before executing it.
"It helps us tactically. It also helps us knowing the background of the person, knowing what they’re capable of. It just gives us a good degree of intelligence before we just run up to a house and go serve a warrant," said Guidry. "Not only are we protected but the community’s protected, and also, the people that we’re serving the warrants to. We can handle the situation without any type of violence occurring."
Garber checks in with the team regularly, always keeping their focus on safety and saving lives.
"The special weapons and the special tactics that we use are about the preservation of life," said Garber. "For the people on the full-time team, there’s nothing they’d rather be doing than hunting bad guys and removing them from society."