Going Tactical: How the Randall Co. Sheriff's Office is forming a SWAT team to protect the public

A team member positions himself in the armored vehicle during a drill; Source: KFDA
A team member positions himself in the armored vehicle during a drill; Source: KFDA
Practicing gun skills at the Randall Co. shooting range; Source: KFDA
Practicing gun skills at the Randall Co. shooting range; Source: KFDA
A team member patrols the field during a simulated drill; Source: KFDA
A team member patrols the field during a simulated drill; Source: KFDA

RANDALL COUNTY, TX (KFDA) - To better protect the communities they serve, the Randall Co. Sheriff's Office is in the process of forming their first ever SWAT team.

The formation of a SWAT team has been in the works for nearly half a decade.

"Just before Thanksgiving in 2014, we had an incident on Ottawa out in Greyhawk, where we had a barricaded man with a gun," said Randall Co. Sheriff Joel Richardson. "I saw these guys riding around in the back of a pick up, in plain clothes. It was a very, very dangerous situation.

That's when he knew a change had to be made.

"After I saw that video, I was like we are never going to do this again. So the very first thing I did was to order an armored vehicle, the bear cat."

Once Sheriff Joel Richardson made sure his team had the appropriate gear, he was determined to get them the appropriate training.

"I thought you know what, we need to go more training," said Sheriff Richardson. "We need to be better prepared to handle whatever kind of situation comes up."

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In order to make SWAT possible, the team needs to follow mandatory guidelines.

"There's a national standard for an actual SWAT team," said Randall Co. Chief Deputy Bob Crump. "You have to have several years of patrol experience. You have to be proficient with firearms. You have to be, physically fit. You have to be physically skilled."

Training is made up of multiple segments.

Each day the team has 1 hour workout sessions starting at 6 in the morning. During this time they not only work on strength, but also critical in-the-field hand-to-hand skills.

"This is what we have to do," said Randall County Sergeant Doug Herrington. "This is, part of the machine that has to happen in order for us to be at that level where we wanna be at."

Along with the tactical training, some members of the SWAT team are also medically certified.

"All of our medics are tactical deputies first," said Randall County sergeant Kevin Willis. "Then above and beyond that they've gone out and got medical certifications, training. They are all nationally registered and licensed to state. We go out continually, train and keep up with those skills sets to use them in the worst conditions possible."

As a medical professional on the team, Sgt. Kevin Willis is able to provide military-grade emergency care to civilians or law enforcement in some of the worst conditions.

"At the end of the day it's a dangerous job and we accept those dangers," said Sgt. Willis. "We may be in a low light setting. We may be in a very rural environment, a hostile environment. It may be an issue where we are a long ways away or we can't get the scene safe enough to bring EMS in to to get the patient transported out."

Maintaining a SWAT team is not cheap.

However, the bad guys are helping fund their own demise.

"Some has come out of our general budget," said Chief Deputy Crump. "But, some of it has come out of seizures from drug dealers."

Although they benefit from it, citizens are not footing the bill for this level of protection.

"All the equipment, most of it is paid for through drug seizures," said Sgt. Herrington. "The money that we take off the streets from drug dealers, will go right back in to financing the training for the SWAT team. The equipment, the guns, none of that is taxpayer funded."

As for the end result, Sheriff Richardson said he hopes fewer people will lose their life.

"It's a service that we owe our public," said Sheriff Richardson. "I hope to see that without question that it saves lives. Now I'm talking about officers, the public, suspects... arrestees, people. It saves people's lives."

It will be another six to eight months before their SWAT team is official.

In the meantime, you will still find the team patrolling the streets, protecting you everyday.

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