SWAT team perfects techniques with special drills
“Do you think I’m playing games now? Call back your sniper!”
The SWAT team outside the BrownsvilleAcademicCenter gym had no choice now. Michael Davis, the hostage taker, had forced its hand. Davis had shot Ricardo Villarreal Jr., one of the six hostages Davis took captive.
Before Davis could shoot anyone else, the SWAT team moved in. In a matter of seconds, Davis was shot and subdued, and the building was secured. The situation was tense, but it was not real. It was an advanced training exercise that many departments got to take part in.
“Overall, the team did really well. We wanted to get them exposed to a lot of technical situations that they don’t normally see on a SWAT call,” said Joe Villarreal, senior officer with the Brownsville Police Department and Region 3 co-director for the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association.
The three-day training introduced officers to hostage negotiations, hostage rescue and vehicle and bus assaults. Friday morning was a culmination of everything they learned.
The four-hour operation pitted two hostage takers — Davis, of P2 Concepts in Denton and Sgt. Troy Arnold of the Brownsville PD — against a SWAT team formed of law enforcement from Cameron and HidalgoCounty.
The hostage takers would adjust the scenario accordingly depending on the actions of the SWAT team. This was to demonstrate the reality: A plan is only good until first contact. “Murphy’s Law: whatever can happen will happen,” Villarreal said.
The six “hostages” were students from the Brownsville PD Explorer program. They assisted with the training for all three days. “It was amazing to be up close to this kind of environment and learn the techniques from the professionals,” Ricardo Villarreal Jr. said.
Araceli Delgado said it showed the explorers new ways to think about police scenarios when participating in the Texas Law Enforcement Explorers Advisors Association competition.
When the mission concluded, the SWAT team was brought inside the gym for a briefing. Villarreal wanted to gauge how much stress the officers felt and what their assessment of the situation was.
“With the things happening around the U.S. and in the world, such as the mass shootings and terrorist attacks, we need to have the best quality training we can get,” Villarreal said. “And you can’t just blaze in with bullets flying all over the place. There are innocent lives to consider.”