Longview Swat Team Drill At Pine Tree - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

10/26/06-Longview

Longview Swat Team Drill At Pine Tree

   Stopping intruders from taking hostages at schools was the focus, today, of a training exercise, by members of Longview SWAT and the crisis negotiation team.    Responding to a mock call of a gunman at a school, members of the Longview SWAT team immediately began to probe the Pine Tree 7th grade campus, looking to evacuate students, and to locate a mock armed gunman.

  "Since Columbine, every police department in the country has changed their tactics and shifted to what's called, the active shooter response" said Crisis Team Commander Sergeant Richard Spruiell.

  For this exercise, they've been told at least one armed suspect is holding several students hostage and threatening to kill them. Knowing that every second could mean life or death for a child, the team races to make contact with the suspect, to communicate, and to buy time. In a school SWAT scenario, the tactics are different , they don't have the luxury of sitting and waiting, they have to go in immediately to access the situation.

    "There was a lot of noise going on, I didn't know what to expect they didn't tell us much, I was nervous I was, like, shaking" said Pine Tree student Brittney Bobbitt.

     Working in almost total darkness, and without sound, teams use stealth to approach the suspect's location, and cut off every possible escape route. The key for negotiators is to convince the suspect that he will not get away, and there's only one choice.

     "As long as we can convince them that they want to live, then the only option they have is to come out, if they go into the situation having their mind already made up that they're not coming out alive that makes it a lot more difficult" Spruiell says.

     A flash grenade is thrown in as a distraction, and the team moves with lightning speed and force, overwhelming the suspect. Guns used by team members today were "replica" weapons that fired rubber pellets. The mock gunman, along with the hostages, were all Pine Tree high school students.

Reported by: Bob Hallmark: bhallmark@kltv.com 

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