Two SWAT Team Calls in a Week in Midland End Peacefully

by Victor Lopez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND--This has been a busy week for Midland's SWAT team, they were called out two days in a row.

Thanks to their quick thinking, both incidents were settled peacefully.

NewsWest 9 took a closer look at the training these brave officers go through to keep everyone safe.

Sgt.  David Garcia is one of the negotiators on the Midland Police Department SWAT Team. He says regardless of the actual situation, they're trained to take each call as it comes, "We go in with the same mindset to expect the worst.  If it happens, we're ready."

It was an unusual week for the Special Weapons and Tactics team.  Two calls in two days at about the same time. According to Sgt Garcia, that's not a typical day at the office, "They come in spurts.  Sometimes we go weeks without any activity involving our tactical team or negotiators and there'll be times, like this, when we have something back to back or 2-3 incidents in a month."

The SWAT team is split up in two, negotiators and tactical.  Members of each team have their own jobs to do, but have to be able to work together to bring things to a peaceful end.

"They all have a job to do, a specific duty and they don't deter from that," Garcia explained.

Amy Burkman, a CASA volunteer, was part of a training class inside Wall Towers when Midland police closed off downtown and put the building in lock down.

"They kept us very well informed.  They told us exactly what was going on, told us exactly what they were doing.  They kept us informed the whole time," Burkman commented.

In addition to police support, Burkman relied on her own experience to keep her cool during an obviously tense situation, "I worked for the schools in Dallas, so I have been under lock down a few times but nothing of this magnitude."

Even though it was after business hours, many were still in the downtown area.  Jason Moore recalls seeing the first officers rushing to get mobilized, "I see the SWAT team getting out of the cars and putting on helmets and the guns and running down the street."

Sgt. Garcia says having guns drawn from the beginning is all part of the training the officers receive, "Valuable seconds in a fire fight can mean life or death for a police officer."

Monthly training sessions include running through scenarios, including what happened on Thursday.  There's no playing around and everything is treated like a real life or death situation.

According to Sgt. Garcia, "The end result is going to be that everyone gets home safe.  The bad guy goes to jail and our officers get to go home."

Garcia says there are about 15 - 20 men on the tactical team.  When situations like this come up, the adrenaline is rushing, but when they get on the scene and get their instructions, they handle things in a very professional manner.