Local SWAT team responds to urgent situations throughout RGV
When urgent situations are beyond the control of first responders, they turn to the Law Enforcement Emergency Regional Response Team SWAT, otherwise known as LERRT SWAT.
Members of the LERRT SWAT come from different law enforcement backgrounds, which include local police and fire departments and Emergency Medical Services.
LEERT SWAT members say though they come from different agencies from across the Rio Grande Valley, they all share similar experiences.
"Being a SWAT member, they got to be committed to making sure that they're going to put their lives before anyone else's life to make sure that the citizen doesn't get hurt," said LEERT SWAT Regional Commander Juan Gonzalez.
On average, LEERT SWAT responds to 30 to 35 warrants a year for local county, state and federal agencies. They say they’ve seen those numbers rise in the past two years.
"Tactics are now being broadcasted on YouTube by other people and the criminal element is watching that and learning from that, so we always have to be a step ahead of them when it comes down to training,” said LEERT SWAT Technical Leader Jose Flores. “So, that's why we have to keep training and training and training."
SWAT members remain on call 24/7. Chief Gonzales says the difference between first responders and members of LEERT SWAT is the special tactics put into place and weapons utilized.
"We do a basic SWAT, we do an advance SWAT, we do hostage rescue, we do active shooter training,” Gonzalez said. “We prepare for any type of chemical or biological or any logical event or threat that's going to come."
Members say though a recently released CBS show called SWAT is entertaining, it doesn’t represent the local SWAT’s slow-pace tactical approach to apprehending suspects. It does, however, represent what members say it means to be in a SWAT team.
"When you come down to the end of the show and they show the comradery that is, that part they get dead on," Flores said.