Dozens of law enforcement officers from around the state are spending the week at the Columbia Law Enforcement Training Academy in Marion County.
Officers are training in the field and classroom working to advance their tactics to become SWAT certified.
“With today’s times changing and getting more aggressive and known threats across the United States, attacks on law enforcement and civilians we are preparing them for that worst case scenario,” Columbia Law Enforcement Training Academy Director Clint McMurry said.
The 40-hour course will run for the full week and keeps officers on the training grounds the entire time.
“One of the main things we teach is officer survival, how to stay alive, because if an officer is injured or killed during an incident then they become part of the problem, not part of the solution,” McMurry said.
During the duration of the course, officers are trained on use of force, civil liability, live-fire situations, as well as various exercises when it comes to SWAT team building.
“We try to make it as real as possible; we’ve learned through years past that you are going to perform like you train, so we train like we want to perform, so we make the scenario just as realistic as possible,” McMurry said. “We take incidents that have happened across the United States and the world and put those in the scenarios.”
The current class is working toward level one SWAT certification, but it is not only open for newcomers.
“We have fresh officers straight out of the academy, and we also have officers that have been seasoned and come back for refreshers,” Columbia Law Enforcement Training Academy Instructor Pete Williams said.
In most law enforcement agencies, SWAT members are the best of the best.
“They say nationwide statistics that 1% of police officers throughout the nation are SWAT certified, we like to train the one percenters here,” Williams said.
The SWAT officers will be certified through Columbia Law Enforcement Training Academy, and every hour has been approved by standard and training for in-service required hours for municipal agencies, according to McMurry.
“This type of training that we can provide here is all thanks to the Marion County Supervisors and the Marion County Development Partnership, they helped get the facility off the ground,” McMurry said.
“Our main goal is to train and make officers the best, at the end of the day we want everyone to go home safe,” Williams said.