PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Opinion

October 11, 2006

Experience shows SWAT’s effectiveness

Kent Conwell column

If I should ever be taken hostage, I cross my heart and hope to die that I’d want the Beaumont SWAT team to come after me after the impressive exhibition I witnessed out at Ford Park a few weeks back.

Actually, I witnessed it as one of the hostages.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Last year, I had the enjoyable and educational opportunity to attend the Citizen’s Police Academy sponsored by the Beaumont Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, Port Arthur Police Department, and the Lamar Institute of Technology.

The 13-week class was held at the Jefferson County Jail Complex on U.S. 69.

Upon completion of the class, I joined the Alumni Association and volunteered to serve in whatever capacity any of the agencies needed.

Around the first of September, I received a call asking if I was interested in volunteering for a SWAT drill? Jeez! Would Wiley Coyote like to catch the roadrunner? You bet, I replied.

So, on a Wednesday, we gathered at Ford Park. Two other CPA volunteers were there, Mike and Frank, and yours truly.

Now one aspect of the academy and its association with the law enforcement agencies is the constant revelation of our local agencies’ capabilities as well as knowledge of some of the hidden challenges our officers face on a daily basis.

When the exercise coordinators oriented us, they explained that four Hispanic males, deserters from the Mexican military and police agencies, were slipping across the border, hitting banks and other money institutions, then sneaking back across the border before we could touch them.

Now, the truth is, I’m pretty naïve about that sort of thing. I looked at my buddies, Mike and Frank, and said. “Is that true?” They nodded, and the look on their faces told me I was some dummy fresh from the East Texas piney forest. 

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