Sheriff hosts SWAT competition in South Bay

September 16, 2008 4:02:28 PM PDT
Special weapons and tactics teams from three western states will compete in a two-day "Best in the West" SWAT competition at the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office Thursday and Friday.

Thirty teams of six plus an alternate for each team, or about 200 people total, will compete in seven physically and emotionally demanding events, according to Sgt. Don Morrissey, spokesman for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office.

Teams from Washington, Arizona and California will compete. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office has been hosting the event for 17 years but does not compete, Morrissey said.

Typically the events include a physically demanding exercise followed by a marksman-style drill.

"The competition is designed as a way to test people's ability to perform in extreme circumstances," he said.

In the sniper course, contestants are required to make precision shots after they've done some running, climbing walls or other actions that simulate a real-life experience.

The Jungle Trail competition takes officers to a remote ravine area with a lot of vegetation. They must descend down a hill using a rope and then engage with various types of reactive targets.

The Live Fire House competition places SWAT teams in a simulated situation where they face close-quarter combat, with real ammunition.

Sunnyvale's SWAT team has been a repeat winner over the years, Morrissey said.

The event not only tests the officers' abilities and skills, it also serves as a way for teams to compare themselves with other departments while allowing them to learn from one another.

"It's a great training opportunity and a good time for networking," Morrissey said.

Several corporate and private sponsors support the event, so there is no cost to the teams that compete. The Santa Clara County Sheriff's Advisory Board also contributes.

The event is not open to the public for safety and liability reasons, but media are invited to cover the event.


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