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Mesa Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics team was formed in 1975 at the direction of the Chief. The SWAT team began with only five members and was originally formed as an anti-sniper team. The Team quickly realized that there was much more to tactics than just being an anti-sniper team and began training for other high risk situations. The group of highly trained and well-equipped Officers has evolved over the years into a complete Tactical Unit. The Tactical Unit, which is overseen by a lieutenant, now includes the SWAT team, Hostage Negotiators, Tactical Emergency Medics, the Hazardous Device Team and the K-9 Unit.

The Tactical Team responds to the following situations: Barricaded Suspects, Hostage Rescue Missions, Hazardous Warrant Service, Counter Sniper Situations, Dignitary Protection, or any other mission designated by the Chief of Police.

The Mesa Police Department SWAT team is full-time, appropriately staffed and mission capable in the areas defined by the National Tactical Officer's Association (NTOA) to be a Tier 1 team. The MPD SWAT team trains regularly and operates with three squads on various schedules to provide an immediate response during the critical hours of the day. Each squad is led by a sergeant, who is designated a Team Leader (TL) and an officer, who is designated as an Assistant Team Leader (ATL). The MPD SWAT team is led by a Lieutenant, who is designated the Tactical Team Commander. When not performing SWAT functions, the team supports other units within the department, such as patrol and other special operations or investigations units. The MPD SWAT team also supports other law enforcement agencies and SWAT teams.

The MPD SWAT team uses various methods to select new candidates for possible placement on the team. Members who desire consideration for the team must be sworn police officers, with at least three years experience. They should also volunteer their services with the team and be recommended by supervisors and peers. The candidate then must do their very best through physical, decision making and weapons events, ending with an oral board interview in a single day. Candidates can be removed at any point and those who remain are invited to attend our 80-hour Basic SWAT School. Remaining candidates may be placed on an eligibility list for a probationary position on the team. When vacancies occur, selected candidates will be placed on the team as probationary members and will undergo at least a year-long training and evaluation program. Successful officers who have been approved by the entire team, and ultimately the Team Commander, will be placed on one of the squads as a team member to continue his or her constant training, improvement and service to the team.

For more information on the Tactical Unit, contact Lieutenant Chris Withrow or Sgt. Marc Therre.

For upcoming SWAT School dates and registration information, please contact SWAT Support Specialist Bonnie Scaccia.

 

Basic SWAT School

The original Mesa Police Department SWAT team began in 1975 and new team members were provided instruction in-house or sent elsewhere for training to begin their SWAT career. This proved to be adequate, but it didn’t take long for some of the original team members to realize they could evaluate and prepare new team members even better. They knew that training and interacting with other SWAT Teams yielded new ideas, constant improvement and application of best practices. They believed this could be used to evaluate and better prepare candidates. In 1989, the MPD SWAT team hosted the first school in the form we use today. This form has Mesa candidates, and other officers new to SWAT, learning and training together. The school is essentially as it was in 1989 with its goal unchanged -- to evaluate and prepare officers for SWAT team assignments. We have hosted this Basic SWAT school annually since 1989.

The school requires one’s best effort for eight straight days. The daily tempo is high and instructors work hard to coach students based on our training, education and experience. We have trained officers from all levels of law enforcement, local, state and federal. We have occasionally hosted students from outside the United States.

Our Basic School covers topics relevant to new SWAT officers. Such topics include effective tactical decision making, sound team movement and firearms fundamentals in a team environment. Expect to work as a team while in this school.

Students need not necessarily be SWAT members or candidates, but ALL students must have approval from their agency’s SWAT/Tactical Commander to attend. Exceptions can be made on an individual basis.

The school is limited in size. For more information about the school or attending, contact SWAT Support Specialist Bonnie Scaccia via e-mail at bonnie.scaccia@mesaaz.gov or call 480-644-2031.

The members of the Mesa Police Department SWAT Team both current and retired are humbled and honored you would train with us, helping to prepare our candidates and yours for a career in SWAT.