Guns, ammo, flash bangs and less-lethal projectiles were all used during the Pima Regional SWAT Team demonstration put on by some of its Oro Valley Police Department members.

Last week, the students participating in the Oro Valley Police Department Citizen Academy took a trip to the Pima Pistol Club’s gun range to watch officers Zach Pierce and Brian Carr demonstrate the use of their weaponry, all aimed at an expired bulletproof vest.

After academy members donned eye and ear protection, Pierce and Carr fired pistol, shotgun, assault rifle and sniper rounds down range to demonstrate how their equipment is used.

Pierce later explained how the benefits the regionalization of the SWAT team benefited residents in Oro Valley and Pima County.

“Going regional and with the interagency cooperation, we now have a regional motor school so that is partially new to the regionalization of SWAT,” Pierce said. “They have talked about making a regional K-9 element; we now have a regional bomb element. And they are talking about, when the sheriff’s department gets this new helicopter, seriously looking at a regional air unit as well.”

During his presentation and to further the friendly interdepartmental rivalry between members of Oro Valley’s SWAT and K-9 units, Pierce showed a special video.

The footage began with a team of SWAT members entering a building as a K-9 handler and his dog stood idle on the side of the house. The handler then let the dog in the entry way to the building as he stood next to the outside wall.

Pierce then showed a picture of the team taking out the suspect, who was in the house, and pointed out that the K-9 did not capture the dog. 

The Special Weapons and Tactics team was originally formed in 1968 by the Los Angeles Police Department as the Special Weapons Attack Team. Oro Valley formed its division of the SWAT team in 1991. It regionalized and became operational in Pima County in 2005 as the Pima Regional SWAT team.

Since Arizona is a border state and the Pima Regional SWAT team is the largest of its kind in the state, it was able to obtain more than

$2 million in grant money. The funds were used to purchase numerous vehicles, equipment and several robots.

The regional team is comprised of the following agencies: Northwest Fire/Rescue District, Pima County Sheriff’s Department, Sahuarita Police Department, Tucson Airport Authority Police, Marana Police Department, Oro Valley Police Department, Pascua Yaqui Police Department, and South Tucson Police Department.

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