The Pima County Sheriff's Department has maintained and deployed a SWAT Team since the early 1970’s. In November 2004, the Department's Special Operations Section undertook the daunting task of organizing the Pima Regional SWAT program. This was a collaborative effort of local law enforcement agencies coming together to provide improved and unsurpassed service to the communities they serve. The goal was to create one of the largest, most capable tactical team in the Country; this goal has been accomplished. The Regional SWAT team is comprised of officers from several local agencies - the Pima County Sheriff's Department, Oro Valley, Marana, South Tucson, Sahuarita, and Pascua Yaqui Police Departments, and the Tucson Airport Authority. The SWAT program also includes medical personnel who are employees of the Pima County Sheriff's Department.
The SWAT program is composed of several distinct elements: four tactical squads, two negotiations squads, the Pima Regional Bomb Squad, the Sheriff’s Department Canine Unit, and one squad of Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) medics. These elements work together to resolve dangerous incidents that pose a risk to the lives of the residents of Pima County. These incidents include hostage situations, barricaded subjects, suicidal persons, high-risk arrest situations, high-risk search warrants, and other crimes or situations where the added training and resources of the SWAT team are needed.
Personnel from each of the participating agencies are divided among squads, creating equally diverse and strong teams. The tactical squads are responsible for the service of high-risk warrants, making entry, and effecting the arrest of barricaded subjects. They train a minimum of two days per month in all areas of SWAT operations. Personnel undergo a strenuous selection process prior to being assigned to the team. Members must maintain high standards of physical fitness as well as firearms and tactics proficiency to remain active with the team.
The negotiations squads are responsible for gathering intelligence and conducting crisis negotiations with barricaded subjects and hostage-takers. Negotiators undergo extensive training in the psychology of criminal activity and negotiations in an effort to achieve peaceful resolutions.
The Tactical Emergency Medical Support element provides emergency medical support to the entire SWAT team as well as victims or suspects requiring emergency medical services. TEMS is staffed by paramedics from the Pima County Sheriff's Department. The paramedics are fully integrated into the tactical element and respond to all missions and training where SWAT is involved.
The critical incidents where the SWAT Team is deployed require the utmost in training, preparation and teamwork. These dedicated professionals focus on a peaceful resolution with the ultimate goal of saving lives. For more than forty years, the Pima County SWAT Team, and now the Pima Regional SWAT Team has performed this function admirably. For more information, please visit the complete history of SWAT in Pima County.
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