Ohio University trains school’s first SWAT team

ATHENS Ohio

A squad of police officers from Ohio University has completed training to become the school’s first certified SWAT team, filling a gap the department’s chief said became clear after a gunman killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.

Five officers from the university’s police department finished a 5-day training course on Friday that focused on shooting techniques, hostage situations and approaches to rioting situations, university officials said.

“I had the idea of a SWAT team before (the shootings at) Virginia Tech happened, but that incident confirmed my thoughts that we needed one,” Ohio University police Chief Michael Martinsen said.

The team will enhance the department’s ability to handle crises, said Martinsen, noting that the next-closest SWAT team would need more than an hour to respond to a situation at the school in Athens, about 75 miles southeast of Columbus.

It cost the university less than $50,000 from the previous year’s budget to set up the SWAT team and equip it with armored helmets, long-range weapons and ammunition, Martinsen said.

It was money well-spent, he said.

“Some people have asked about the costs of starting a SWAT team and training officers in hostage negotiations, but I would hate to be the one who had to tell the parents of a student that we didn’t think their child’s life was worth the extra money,” Martinsen said.

Information from: The Athens Messenger, http://www.athensmessenger.com/

–Associated Press



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