“We have some photos from SWAT training scenarios we've done, repelling off buildings, entries into houses, and pretty much all of our equipment set up here,” said detective Lynn Brewer. “We have ballistic shields, the A2K UMP 40 and the A2K MP5, which are machine guns that our SWAT team uses. We have an AR-15, which is a .223 round rifle on display. We have both the Mossberg 590 shotgun, and the Remington 870, which are used for different purposes, and of course, the rams for opening doors and the opening tool, which is used for doors.”
Brewer said the team also had its non-lethal weaponry on display, including bean bag rounds, rubber rounds, wooden knee-knockers and the TAZER cartridges for TAZER guns.
“Mostly here in the city of Portsmouth, the SWAT team is used for high-risk search warrants, drug entries and so forth. Where there is likely to be weapons present,” Brewer said. “We use them for high- risk warrant searches where the subject is known to be armed and dangerous, but we also train for hostage situations, and search and rescue training as well.”
He said the purpose of the display Friday was for public awareness of what the police department does and what they are capable of doing, and the services the police have available in protecting the public.
Portsmouth police officers, Scioto County Sheriff's deputies and members of the Ohio State Highway Patrol participated in recent joint training exercises on the campus of Shawnee State University.
“With all the incidents going on at schools anymore, we have to train and be prepared,” Brewer said. “It's probably one of the most intense training programs I've ever been in. Very realistic, and actually rubber rounds being fired, and you're actually being shot at and shooting at suspects. It was quite intense.”
Brewer said things have changed in recent years in the way police departments handle sniper incidents in settings such as college campuses.
“To be frank, you have someone going through a school building just randomly shooting children, and there's not time to negotiate with someone like that,” he said. “You need to eliminate the threat. So the training now is to quickly find the threat and eliminate it.”
Brewer said earlier tactics that involved setting up a perimeter was for bank robberies and similar situations, but school shooting calls for immediate reaction, taking out the shooter as quickly as possible.
“In a school situation there is no negotiating, you need to deal with the problem,” he said.
Detective Jim Charles said SWAT training varies by individual from officer to officer.
“I did a lot of SWAT work in the military at the Marine Corps base where I was stationed. So I brought a lot of that with me already, as far as shooting the MP-5's, the various handguns we use, shotguns, things like that,” Charles said. “Once I got hired here I went to a two-week program up at OPOTA (Ohio Peace Officer's Training Academy). I was taught by the Dade-Miami, Fla., SWAT team, and since then, I have been to various SWAT leadership schools and things like that.”
Joining Charles and Brewer at the display were officer Steve Brewer and narcotics officer Steve Timberlake.
FRANK LEWIS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.