Officers compete in international SWAT competition

By DeeAnna Haney | Dec 06, 2013
Pictured left to right: Det. Rob Skiver, Sgt. Brandon Gilmore, Waynesville Police Chief Bill Hollingsed, Sgt. Heath Plemmons, Officer Heath Pressley and Officer Zack Faulkenberry. Bottom row, left to right: Sgt. Tyler Trantham,  Det. Brad Miller, Officer Michael Blaylock and Officer Josh Schick.

Officers from the Waynesville and Maggie Valley police departments put their skills to the test during an international competition last month.

It’s the sixth year the Waynesville Police Department Special Response Team has participated in the SWAT Round-Up International held in Orlando, Florida.

Each year, the competition is stiff, with not only large departments such as the Boston Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department, but also specialized teams from as far away as Hungary, Kuwait, Germany and Brazil, to name a few.

With only 35 sworn officers in the entire department and an eight-man SRT, “we’re by far the smallest team that competes,” said Hollingsed.

Not to mention all of the team members have other full-time jobs within the police department, but spend time each month training for the team.

Challenging the teams as a unit, each competition event is ultimately training for real-life scenarios. Donning gas masks for a hostage rescue, traversing an obstacle course, shooting moving targets and rappelling down a tower are all examples of what the eight-person team faced during the five-day competition.

“It’s probably as close as you can get to the real thing,” said Det. Rob Skiver, who has been a participant several years.

Experiencing that feeling is an essential part of training that makes the team more prepared for any type of situation.

“Every year we improve a little bit and that’s what we’re looking for,” said Hollingsed.

Aside from the competition, the week started with two days of class instruction by law enforcement leaders from around the world — the type of classes that officers would not typically be financially able to attend.

The team members fund the annual trip by holding bake sales and other small fundraisers throughout the year and by the generosity of sponsors. This year, Lee Starnes and Steve Ariko, both alumni of the Civilian Police Academy, were main sponsors for the team.

“We know we are very lucky that we’re able to go,” said Det. Brad Miller.

Members of Waynesville Police Department’s SRT include Sgt. Brandon Gilmore, Sgt. Tyler Trantham, Sgt. Heath Plemmons, Det. Brad Miller, Det. Rob Skiver, Officer Zach Faulkenberry and Officer Heath Pressley. Officers Josh Schick and Michael Blaylock from the Maggie Valley Police Department also joined the team for training at the competition.




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