GREAT FALLS — The latest session of the Cascade County Sheriff’s Office Citizens’ Academy covered the Special Weapons & Tactics (SWAT) team, teaching class participants about the training and procedures used by the team. The 15 members of the team train for 13 hours a month.
“Obviously we respond to high-risk situations,” said Deputy Casey Gervais, a SWAT team member. “Whether it be high risk warrant services or anything like that where regular patrol people can’t handle it.”
Members of the class also were able to watch a simulated SWAT call-out in which team members used a “flash bang” device to extract a suspect out of a vehicle.
When SWAT is called out, they establish a priority of life: first protecting any hostages or surrounding members of the public, followed by law enforcement, and finally the suspect.
Every situation is different and in a county with more than 2,700 square miles to patrol, the response depends on which officers are available. While the team starts with a plan, they must remain flexible.
“Different situations, scenarios, call outs what have you, if a guy ends up walking out during a delivery you have to react to that and maybe take him into custody beyond your actual approach to that building so making that decision is super important,” said Deputy Kevin Lindland.
Even though the plan may be modified, everyone knows their role: “Normally we have a munitions program which is our gas and distraction device program,” said Lindland.
A call- out will also feature a breaching team, the tactical commander, incident commander, and marksmen.
“They are the long gun, bolt gun guys so they provide a lot of intel and overwatch for the movement of the team,” said Lindland.
“We have three of these (marksman rifles), these are all identical,” said Deputy Shane Powell, a SWAT team member. “They’re made by Accuracy International. 308 with a night force scope on it.”
The CCSO SWAT team doesn’t just cover Cascade County. The team will support neighboring Sheriff’s offices if needed. “They’re more of just like a response team, per se, they don’t have the budget for any specialized equipment and specialized training like we do so we back up any county that needs our help and stuff like that,” said Gervais.
CASCADE COUNTY CITIZENS' ACADEMY: