SIDNEY — The Shelby County Junior Fair office was transformed into a home as police officers searched for a “murder suspect.”
The Sidney and Piqua Police Departments joint SWAT team held its monthly training at the Shelby County Fairgrounds Tuesday morning as they tackled scenarios they might encounter when they are on the job.
“We are using this as a house and running different scenarios,” said Sidney Police Department Sgt. Jeremy Lorenzo. “We’re also using our K-9 in the training. This is the second time we’ve used the K-9 in the training.”
The 17-man team, which includes eight Piqua officers and nine Sidney officers, work together on all aspects of the scenario.
“Today (Tuesday) we’re clearing a residence,” said Lorenzo. “We’ve learned that someone wanted for murder is in the house.”
The team, he said, sets up a perimeter around the residence. After entry is made, the residence is cleared room by room while they searched for the subject. The K-9 was also sent in during the search.
“This is the police and we have a search warrant,” was heard as each officer entered the residence. Each officer, said Lorenzo, is told to speak loud and clear when entering the residence.
“We want everyone to be clear on our intentions,” said Lorenzo. “It’s important everybody is vocal and that there’s no confusion on why we’re there.”
The first group of officers do a primary search of the residence. A secondary search is completed by the next group of officers. As the search is completed, the officers can be heard stating what they’ve searched and if a subject is in custody.
As the officers prepare to leave the scene, they count off to make sure everyone is accounted for.
After running through the scenario — both with and without the K-9 officer — the team members don gas masks and prepare to enter the residence again.
During the scenario with the gas masks, the “murder suspect” was found in the house and taken into custody.
Lorenzo said the first hour of the training Tuesday was a lecture. The rest of the morning was spent during scenarios, which also included recovering an officer who is injured, an injured citizen and taking someone into custody who is surrendering.
The afternoon was spent at the police shooting range.
Next month’s training will be held at the police academy and they will do active shooter training. The training is rotated between Sidney and Piqua, he said.
“We’ll also use Piqua’s armored vehicle in a scenario,” said Lorenzo. “We try to incorporate things we’re likely to encounter in our training.”
Lorenzo said the team responded on five missions in 2016. The incidents in which they will be dispatched include a hostage situation, serving a high risk search warrant and a barricaded person where there is no hostage.
Each officer, said Lorenzo, was a member of their police department for at least three years before becoming a member of the SWAT team.
“There has to be an opening on the team,” said Lorenzo of the process of becoming a team member. “You’re on it until you chose not to be anymore.”
Lorenzo said he has been a team member for 14 years. In addition to the monthly training, the officers receive advanced training throughout the year.
Since he joined the team, Lorenzo said he has seen numerous changes.
“We all learn and grow each time we do a mission,” said Lorenzo. “We can determine a better way of doing things.
“We used to use speed and dynamic entry (into a residence). That has changed and the entry method has slowed down,” he said. “We’ll call the individuals out and then the entry methods are slower. We also go a lot slower when moving through a house. We’ve found taking our time is a safer way to operate.”
As Lorenzo observed the team in action, he said there’s always a tactical medic standing by.
“The tactical medic is standing outside the door,” said Lorenzo. “He can provide immediate first aid to officers or civilians who are injured.”
He said if Tuesday’s event had been a actual mission, he wouldn’t have been in the building observing the team in action. He would have been in the command post overseeing everything that was occurring.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4822; follow her on Twitter @MelSpeicherSDN. Follow the SDN on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SidneyDailyNews.