At the City of Brownwood’s firing range Saturday, Brownwood Police Chief Terry Nichols talked to Citizens Police Academy participants about numerous topics including his goal of forming a regional tactical response, or SWAT, team.
    Nichols explained some of the equipment that will be needed for the team, including body armor capable of stopping rifle rounds. Brownwood officers currency have vests that are intended to stop pistol, but not rifle rounds, Nichols said.
    Nichols displayed a heavy rifle-round vest at the firing range that’s his. The police department has applied for a state grant for purchasing tactical team equipment including 12 of the vests.
    Nichols envisions a tactical team with a minimum of about 20 officers from multiple agencies including the Brownwood Police Department. He said while the Brownwood Police Department has a Memorandum of Understanding for support from the Abilene Police Department’s tactical team, those officers are an hour and a half away.
    “We need to have a local tactical capability,” Nichols said.
    Nichols said he’s had conversations with other law enforcement officials including Early Police Chief David Mercer and Sheriff Vance Hill.
    Mercer emailed his thoughts on a regional tactical team to the Bulletin:
      “I strongly support the development of a regional tactical team. Tactical incidents range from search warrant execution to a barricaded individual to a hostage incident.
     “A hostage rescue is the most serious and complex incident because you’re dealing with the rescue of innocent civilians in most cases. Agencies around this part of the state do not employee adequate number of officers to support a fully functional tactical team because most situations that develop go for long periods of time, costing departments money in both salaries and equipment.
    “Tactical units can vary in sizes but when you figure in the variety of pieces involved in developing a full team you will have 25 to 30 officers involved.
    “You will notice on many SWAT incidents in the media there will be two or sometimes three SWAT teams deployed to support each other. That is because of the time involved in most incidents.
    “If you remember a tactical incident in Comanche recently, SWAT from Abilene and Waco came to support each other, not knowing what would develop. Having been through numerous SWAT schools in the past and being team leader for the sheriff’s office team when I was there, I know some of what it will take to developed a full team.             “The Early Police Department has an MOU with Abilene Police Department SWAT who will respond with a phone call. We also have resources with DPS SWAT who responds from Austin.
    “Both of these teams would be utilized for larger or more severe incidents but will be called at the onset of any incident.
    “Having said all this I do not want to take away from the Sheriff’s Office Tactical Team. They will respond to anything at a moment’s notice without a doubt. But when it comes to more complex situations, most people can’t even imagine what would roll in here for a full-scale hostage incident.
    “People also have to realize the number of officers used in an incident is demanding but you also have to have officers available for the everyday calls for service and be ready for other emergencies.”