Week five of the Covington Police Department’s citizen’s academy required another road trip, this time to the CPD gun range on Williams Street. We were outside to see a demonstration of the department’s Emergency Services Unit, or updated SWAT team and K-9 officer Doerak with his handler Officer Hayward DeRouen.
SWAT is an acronym for Special Weapons and Tactics.
ESU commander, Lt. Al Miller, explained that special tactical teams have been around in Newton County since 1979 when the first joint CPD and Newton County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was formed. He said the ESU was formed by CPD in 2015.
Lt. Miller said the team is trained in more than just weapons and tactics. In addition to a barricaded suspect or an active shooter scenario, I asked him what his team might respond to.
“Typical tactical situations which we would respond to, in addition to the ones you mentioned, would be hostage situations, civil unrest, high risk arrest and search warrants, sniper situation, or any other situation deemed necessary by a supervisor,” he said.
Additionally, members of the unit have medical training that would allow them to render aid to victims or each other quickly should the situation arise.
Lt. Miller said, “All of the team, with the exception of the new members, have been through the T triple C course. That’s Tactical Combat Casualty Care. The course concentrates on stopping massive bleeding. Proper direct/indirect pressure, tourniquet use, wound packing and pressure bandaging. It also deals with airway and respiration emergencies, emergency patient moves, and expedited patient assessments.”
The unit also includes tactical paramedics from the Covington Fire Department who could be used to evacuate victims and provide a higher level of emergency care if the situation arises.
ESU is also trained in search and rescue and can assist in situations involving missing persons.
“We would provide our assistance to surrounding jurisdictions if requested,” Lt. Miller said, “We continue to seek training which will make us a versatile team which will expand our skills beyond just tactical applications.”
Lt. Miller said team members are required to take and pass two physical fitness tests each year. The test includes doing at least 50 push-ups, 50 sit-ups and run a 1.5 mile run. He said officers have to have at least two years of law enforcement experience and be on a non-probationary status with CPD.
The class got to see the ESU demonstrate two tactical scenarios using live rounds. In the first, team members entered a “building” where bad guys were hold up. After the “entry”, the team “cleared” and “secured” the scene.
The second scenario involved team members advancing on a position across an open field using smoke and a sniper for cover. Officers alternatively moved or covered as their team member moved until they had covered a distance and “secured” the “scene”. The sniper was in place to provide additional cover fire.
Watching the team move through the scenarios with precision firing real bullets was impressive. And another thing we would not have gotten to see if not for the CPA.
CPD Citizen's Police Academy demonstration
We also got to see some of the tools the unit uses to break through doors. Just picking up a battering ram gave me an idea about why there are physical fitness requirements.
We also got to see CPD’s K9 officer Doerak work with his handler Officer Hayward DeRouen. Officer DeRouen explained that Doerak is trained to track, detect drugs and take down criminals. And we got to see him is action when another officer donned the padded suit and “attacked” Officer DeRouen.
This was the next to the last CPA class. Our next session will be April 7 when we assemble at the gun range again for firearms training and a chance to fire some of the weapons CPD uses. But before that, I’m going to go on a ride along with a CPD officer on a Saturday night. It should be interesting and I’ll tell you about it.
Lt. Miller said CPD offers active shooter training for local businesses. He said anyone wanting training can email him at email@example.com or Captain Ken Malcom at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call CPD to ask about it.