Police chiefs working on joint SWAT team
Recent changes in Police Officer Standards and Training standards and regulations make it hard for smaller departments to maintain a SWAT team, but local chiefs said they have found a way to make sure a SWAT team is there when they need it.
Eureka Police Chief Garr Nielsen said he has contacted several local police chiefs and the ball is rolling on the creation of a multi-agency SWAT team.
One of the chiefs that is in full support of the idea is Arcata Police Chief Randy Mendosa.
”I think it's a very good idea,” Mendosa said.
Nielsen said that aside from the stricter regulations, economic strains also make it hard to maintain a SWAT team. The Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training, or POST, was established by the Legislature in 1959 to set minimum selection and training standards for California law enforcement.
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department has an active SWAT team, but currently it's the only fully staffed and trained SWAT team in the county.
Nielsen said another SWAT team would be beneficial because tactical operations have the potential to last hours, even days, and
the option of having one team relieve another takes some stress off an already stressful situation.
”They can also train together and learn how each other works,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen has also talked to chiefs in Fortuna, Trinidad and at Humboldt State University.
Theoretically, each department would supply their own officers with equipment and make sure they attend training. Expenses, like gasoline, would be split among the departments.
But, the Arcata and Eureka chiefs pointed out, it's very early in the process.
”I think we're in the brainstorming stage,” Mendosa said.
The next step is a memorandum of understanding between the chiefs, Nielsen said, which should be done around the first of the year.
Then, the chiefs start the process of bringing the idea to the attention of their city managers and city council members.
”It's unfortunate that we have to have it like this,” Mendosa said. “But it's a necessity in this world we live in.”