SWAT candidates train for worst-case scenarios

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SALT LAKE CITY — After one look over the edge, Josh Allred rappels down the 50-foot high, five story building.

As one of 15 Special Weapons and Tactics team candidates from seven agencies in training this week, he's learning tactical maneuvers like rappelling that thrill seekers perform for an adrenaline rush. For the candidates, these maneuvers must become a precise and calculated procedure they perform under pressure.

"What we're looking for here is that they are able to think and physically sustain and stay focused over a lengthy period of time," said Tactical Commander Lt. Rich Brede.

SWAT teams are on the front lines of the most dangerous situations when it comes to law enforcement, walking into places others run away from.

The candidates have been in class since Sunday and will continue, day and night, through Friday. They are performing team building exercises, enduring physical and mental drills, learning to negotiate with suspects, and receiving weapons training.

"It's been challenging, but a lot of good teamwork together, new experiences," said Allred, a Salt Lake City police officer.

By the end of the week, individuals aren't given a letter grade. They either pass or fail.

"It provides us an opportunity to see a candidate work under stress, overcome the fears we talked about, work as a team," Brede said.

Though Allred has previous military training in special weapons and tactics, it's no cake walk this week. When asked what the most difficult part of training has been, he simply said he wasn't sure.

"They kind of keep everything in the dark, so you face it, going into everything blind," Allred said. "So I'm not sure yet."

When it's all over, the candidates who pass the rigorous school will be eligible for the Salt Lake City SWAT team, and upon job openings, can join.


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Andrew Wittenberg


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