Becoming SWAT, Part 4: Team Competition

Posted at 9:38 PM, May 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-20 22:38:17-04

They’ve tried out, trained and taken daily challenges in the field, and now, the Lafayette Parish SWAT Team has found out how it stands up among the rest.

Thirteen teams turned out for the Louisiana Tactical Police Officers Association’s Annual Training Conference in Baton Rouge.

"We had a handgun competition, a rifle competition and a shotgun event. And then today, we have an obstacle course and a sniper event," said Ben Raymond, President of the Louisiana Tactical Police Officers Association. 

One of the squads was made up of six operators from the Lafayette Parish SWAT Team, who earned their spots as some of the top guys at the office under Sheriff Mark Garber. 

"We started over from scratch. We made everyone try out on a new revised SWAT protocol that was much more difficult physically, and it eliminated about half of the team right away, just right out of the gate," said Garber.

For the half of the team that did stay on, the training, testing and tactical operations have now become a way of life.
"A way to test your skills that would be important in a real-life event, a realistic scenario. It’s important for a SWAT operator to be able to think quickly on their feet, to be able to shoot accurately and to have good endurance," said Raymond. 

As the team continues to strengthen and improve, the sheriff is also keeping some long-term goals in mind.

"The goal, as a sheriff, is to enlarge the SWAT team, so that I can be capable of an extended operation or hitting multiple targets at once," said Garber.

When it was all said and done, LPSO’s SWAT Team ranked 7th among all the teams at the competition and placed in the top four teams in the state. 

"These competitions are kind of a culmination of all those skills. So, it lets you know where you stand as a team, shows your strengths, and some of the weaknesses you may need to work on," said Raymond.

"Things go wrong, and that’s why we train so hard on the basic fundamentals. You have to be excellent at what you do and try to induce failures in training," said Garber.

Failure is induced in training to make sure things go right in the real world, and that priceless lives are saved as a result.

"The life of the police officers, the life of the citizens that we serve and protect, and the life of the suspects that we’re trying to apprehend," said Garber.

No matter how tough, dangerous or impossible their job may sometimes seem, Lafayette Parish operators say they wouldn’t trade becoming SWAT for anything.