Article Published: May 11, 2002
Jail-sponsored SWAT competition tests officers' stamina and skillsJanet S. Spencer
An 11-member team from the Rock Hill Police Department took advantage of a break Friday afternoon, resting in the shade of a tent.
The three-time champions of a SWAT competition hosted by the Spartanburg County Detention Facility were optimistic they would again take home the coveted trophy.
"In the first few events, we have done well," Lt. Derek Williams said as members prepared for the two-man challenge. "They (the judges) are looking for consistent runs."
Teams from four visiting states arrived Wednesday for three days of testing, sweating, straining and decision-making under simulated pressure at the local law enforcement training center and shooting range. Events included pistol shoot-offs, training classes, rappelling, hostage and sniper rescue, shooting a 4-by-4 board in half, a two-man challenge, and tug of war.
The officers use the meet as a chance to hone their skills as well as share camaraderie and business cards, said Craig Bradley, a SWAT team member with the Spartanburg Police Department. "And we're especially saddened to learn that a team from Tennessee who lost an officer in the line of duty is busy with a funeral today instead of competing," Bradley said.
As Bradley and fellow teammate Tony Membreno prepared for the next event, Membreno said this is his last year of competing. He leaves Sunday to become a federal marshal, but he joined the others in giving the competition high praise.
As the Gastonia team planned strategy in hopes of improving its scores, Patrolman Gary Johnson described the meet as tough but good and the competition as keen -- a learning process. "Yeah, now he can count to 10," said fellow teammate Gary Johnson, referring to timed drills. Trying to stay one up, Johnson shot back, "Yeah, by fives."
The ninth annual challenge concludes with the banquet and trophy presentation tonight.
Janet Spencer can be reached at 582-4511, Ext. 7222, or email@example.com.