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Regional SWAT Team & Communities Benefiting from Merger Five Years Ago

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In high risk situations even our local police need some back up. So, who do they call? The Tri-City Regional SWAT Team. But, it wasn't always as streamlined as it is now. In high risk situations even our local police need some back up. So, who do they call? The Tri-City Regional SWAT Team. But, it wasn't always as streamlined as it is now.
KENNEWICK, WA - In high risk situations even our local police need some back up. So, who do they call? The Tri-City Regional SWAT Team. But, it wasn't always as streamlined as it is now.

At full staff, 24 people make up the team. Regional teams are becoming more common, especially in areas as tightly-situated as the Tri-Cities. A few years ago, our local teams joined forces and it's a classic case of working smarter and harder.

"The training that we do, we take seriously. It's a finite amount of training because we are a part time team but these guys put in full-time effort," said Team Commander, John Law.

The team is part time, in that they train together twice a month. However, they are always on call and respond to an average of 35 incidents a year.

"It's pretty close to 50/50 with us for high risk search warrants and then barricaded suspects. For whatever reason, we kind of get a lot of barricaded suspects around here," said Team Leader Wayne Dubois.

The team is made up of officers from all the local agencies. By day (or night), these guys are detectives, canine officers or patrolmen.

"You've got more people, more officers. A bigger pool to draw from," said Dubois.

Before 2009, there were two teams. One in Benton County and another in Pasco. It was decided it made more sense to merge.

"That builds the relationships with all the agencies. So  you get to know people that you didn't know before. They know, hey we can trust these guys, we can call them for things. So, it's really just an all-around benefit for the community," said Dubois.

It also benefits the team. Funding isn't as much of a struggle now. The Kennewick, Pasco and Richland Fire Department and the Benton County Sheriff's Office each contribute more than $7,000 a year. The Franklin County Sheriff's also contributes another couple thousand. 

"What we like to pride ourselves on is, we actually make it safer. We have the proper equipment, the proper training," said Law.

Looking ahead five years from now, Dubois believes one of the biggest challenges the SWAT team faces is keeping up with technology. New cameras, robots and other equipment used to ensure safety continue to evolve and it isn't cheap.
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