SWAT: A team prepared for any situation

The Salem SWAT team with distinctive olive green or camouflage uniforms.

The Salem Police Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team is on-call to engage “unique circumstances,” and the Salem Police Foundation salutes the team for completing 35 years of service to the Salem community.

“Each mission has the same goal, which is to maintain the safety and welfare of the victim, as well as the suspect,” said Deputy Chief Scott Hayes, a former SWAT team member who now commands the unit. “It is the enhanced training and special equipment that give these special squads the ability to handle any situation,” he said. Those situations could include barricaded persons, hostages taken or high-risk warrant service.

The unit started in 1977 with six officers in three two-man counter-sniper teams. Later it became a tactical team and SWAT in 1983 with seven officers. The team has grown to 20 officers and four paramedics. Team members have primary assignments in other divisions, such as patrol or investigations, the Statesman Journal reported in September in a story written by Angie Hedrick, a police department community relations analyst.

“I recently spent a day observing the officers in their SWAT training,” Hedrick wrote. “It was a long and arduous day of scenario after scenario, review and repitition, planning and preparation. It wasn’t Hollywood. It was Salem, Oregon, officers training hard to be ready for any situation that would pose an unusual threat to the lives and safety of all involved.”

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