Someone takes people hostage at gunpoint and Lubbock SWAT is called. On Wednesday that was one of the simulated situations officers faced in downtown Lubbock.
It's been nearly seven years since Lubbock Police lost fellow officer, Kevin Cox, during a SWAT standoff. Since then Lubbock SWAT says they have increased their training efforts.
July 13, 2001, friendly fire kills Lubbock Police Officer Kevin Cox during a botched SWAT standoff. Since that painful day, Lubbock SWAT Lt. Neal Barron says overall training has increased.
We've had more liberty to train more often and bring in outside trainers and go to outside schools, so we're able to keep current with industry standards. Lubbock SWAT trains a couple times a month as a team. In a March exercise, the SWAT team knocked in doors at abandoned apartments. However, if there were a real stand off or a hostage situation more than just SWAT would be called to help.
Captain Greg Stevens said, "It involved people from patrol again, negotiators, incident commanders, the SWAT team and people from all over the police department."
Around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, officers were paged to the old South Plains College Building in downtown Lubbock. More than 50 officers responded to the full-blown SWAT call out.
"We set up a Virginia Tech type situation," Lt. Barron said. He said, "A former student came in and fired some shots, shot a simulated instructor. We had to go and rescue a couple of people," Lt. Barron added
Lt. Barron says training days are necessary since fortunately, there have not been many full blown SWAT call outs in the last couple of years. It is a place where communication problems are safely worked out and the skills of these first responders are kept sharp.
"It doesn't happen often in Lubbock with a full call outs and that's one reason we train on it more often, so that we can stay ready to make sure all the gear is ready," Barron added.
LPD created a full time SWAT detail in February. It is called the Special Duty Unit and daily the team of 13 officers focuses on problem areas across the Hub City.
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