February 22, 2005
Sumner County S.W.A.T. team to train at Cowley College
A Special Weapons And Tactics team from Sumner County is scheduled to conduct a training exercise Thursday on the main campus of Cowley College in Arkansas City.
The S.W.A.T. training, conducted every two weeks by the team, will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in a vacant house on Fourth Street just north of the Oscar Kimmell Dormitory. Students in Elvin Hatfield’s Administration of Justice program at Cowley will participate.
“It’s hard for us to find locations to train to add the realism that we need,” said Mike Yoder, patrol captain and S.W.A.T. team commander for the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department. “It’s nice to find buildings we haven’t seen. It’s also hard to find people who make good people to train with. We want to try to make this as real as possible. We want people to act like they think they would in a situation.”
Seven Cowley students will participate in the morning and seven new ones in the afternoon, Hatfield said. Other students who are not participating will be observing throughout the day.
Yoder, who went through Hatfield’s program in the mid-1980s but is just shy from finishing a degree, said the biggest thing the S.W.A.T. team relies on is diversion and surprise.
“In a real situation, the bad guys wouldn’t have a clue,” Yoder said.
The S.W.A.T. team from Sumner County has 13-15 people from several jurisdictions. Besides staff from the Sumner County Sheriff’s Department, two Wellington Police Department officers, one from Clearwater, one from Conway Springs, and five emergency medical personnel will be among team members.
“We’ve done some cross training with the Wichita Police Department,” Yoder said. “We have a mutual aid agreement with them. We’re their backup and vice-versa.”
Hatfield said the training also would involve all of the parking spaces against the fence bordering the north end of the Kimmell Dorm parking lot.
Yoder said part of the S.W.A.T. team also would be involved with Sumner County 911.
“They’ll set up an incident command post from a truck,” Yoder said. “That way there is coordination between negotiators, snipers and S.W.A.T. commanders.”
Yoder said when the team arrives, it will number the sides of the house, all windows and doors. “Floor plans are real important to us,” he said.
Yoder said his team is a member of the National Tactical Officers Association. Although it’s a part-time team, meaning members have other duties, the team trains a minimum of 16 hours a month to maintain its level of readiness.
“We try to do a 40-hour S.W.A.T. school every year,” Yoder said. The team trains every other Thursday.
Yoder contacted Hatfield to arrange for Thursday’s training. Several Cowley students have participated in training sessions in Sumner County.
“This house will be great to train in,” Yoder said of the two-story home. “What is here is wonderful.”
Yoder said it was important for S.W.A.T. team members to train often.
“If you don’t use perishable skills often, you’ll lose them,” he said. “Shooting skills are perishable. The worst mindset of a team is that there’s nothing they can’t do.”
Yoder said his S.W.A.T. team works high-risk search warrants where there are known drugs or drug dealings and the probability that weapons are present.
“If it’s a hostage rescue and someone is being held by an armed person, we’d call in help for that,” Yoder said. “Anything out of the normal scope of trained patrol officers or a group of officers, the S.W.A.T. team comes in.”