The Kalamazoo Metro SWAT Team conducted scenario training at Miller Auditorium Wednesday, April 14. These trainings test the SWAT officers on their skills for possible real-life scenarios, said Robert Holdwick, Kalamazoo Public Safety lieutenant.
“We need to be prepared if there is an incident, not specifically any college campus, but at a location where there would be a large number of people,” Holdwick said. “Miller Auditorium happens to be a place where a lot of people gather, so we’d like to be able to respond to that.”
The Kalamazoo Metro Swat is a multi-jurisdictional team composed of members from KDPS, Portage Public Safety, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office and Kalamazoo Township Police. Members of WMU Public Safety are also a part of the SWAT team.
“These training are designed to improve our skills, but to test the officers in their physical abilities and also they’re thinking,” said Robert Holdwick, Kalamazoo Public Safety Lieutenant.
He added: “We try to make our training match our incidents and those types of situations as much as possible.”
The SWAT team trains once a month at a different location to “mix-up” each training session, he said.
“As part of that, we like to find different locations that will allow us to train there, that will maybe represent a situation we would actually respond to,” Holdwick said.
Some of the scenarios the SWAT team runs through can last up to an hour, depending on the size of the training session.
“In real life it can last for a long time, a day, depends,” Holdwick said.
Around 20 people were involved in the training, along with K-9s from KDPS, he said. The K-9s are used to track individuals or as a safety tool during real-life scenarios.
The training was closed to the media and public to ensure safety in a possible scenario. He said it is best if their tactics are not known to the public.
“We don’t want people to see the tactics we employ,” Holdwick said. “That gives them an advantage when we’re coming to an incident. A suspect might know the tactics we’re going to use. They’re going to be one or two steps ahead of us which is not what we want.”