Carson City Citizens Academy learns about team’s tactics
Students in the Carson City Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy got a first hand look at the department’s SWAT during its class Wednesday night.
The class met at the College Parkway Fire Station 52, where Sgt. Jim Primka, the SWAT Watch Commander, went over information such as the tactics used today, the team and the training it takes to make it onto the team. He explained each member of the team has to be with the department at least a year, pass a physical agility test, range qualification and 40 hours of SWAT school to be on the team. In addition, each member has to requalify twice a year and attend 10 hours of training per month.
The team consists of breechers, firearms, techs and operators, plus two Carson City Fire Department medics. Though they don’t get paid extra for being on SWAT, Sgt. Dan Gomes told the class it’s better they don’t get paid because it ensures they get the officers with the most passion for the job.
“The good thing,” he said, “is that everyone here has heart and wants to do this.”
Primka also explained to the class how they determine whether a call requires SWAT or not. First responders on a scene have a SWAT matrix they have to fill out: a series of “yes” or “no” questions, with each yes answer assigned a certain number of points. At the end of the matrix, the number of points determines whether it can be classified as a SWAT call or not. Primka said they do this because the use of SWAT is considered a use of force, so they need a justified reason for being called out.
The students also had the opportunity to learn about the different tools and vehicles used during a SWAT call. Deputies Josh Chaney, Uriel Collazo and John Smith showed the class tools such as the flash bang equipment, rams and the Mine Resistant Ambush Protective Vehicle.
“If we are going to a call we’re not being sneaky squirrel,” Chaney said. “The MRAP is loud, the Humvee is loud, they know we are coming.”
Primka said the benefit of SWAT being known to subjects is typically once they see SWAT, the MRAP and their weapons, the subjects just surrender.
To conclude their demonstration, SWAT did a mock raid on one of the burn buildings to show the class what they would do in a real situation.
Gomes and Sgt. John Hitch also taught the class about what they should do during an active shooter incident. They talked about how national and local police response has changed since Columbine — with police response times from when the first 911 call is reported to when the first patient is treated, reducing times from 53 minutes in 1998 with Columbine to only 14 minute response times in recent training for Carson City. Gomes also explained a unique new feature with their training is they are working on training with the Fire Department so they can get medics to patients faster.
“This is the relationship we have: my job is to keep FD safe and alive so they can get in and save your life,” Gomes said. “That is how great our relationship is that they trust me with their lives.”
The two sergeants also taught the class about what to do if an active shooter comes into a building, what to do if incendiary devices are used and how to apply basic medical treatment if anyone gets shot.
“(This class is important because) it is important just to be prepared and know how to respond to situations,” Hitch said.
Many of the students found the demonstration and class to be exciting.
“I thought it was awesome,” said one man who wished not to be named. “It was extremely important and I think everyone should have to have that kind of training.”