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Chattanooga PD SWAT

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Chattanooga PD SWAT

Chattanooga is the 4th largest city in the state of Tennessee, and is located in Southeast Tennessee near the border of Georgia at the junction of four interstate highways.

The Chattanooga Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Team is a part-time regional tactical unit composed of twenty-four officers who work regular duty assignments in patrol, narcotics, training and investigation when not performing SWAT duties. A Lieutenant and two squad leaders command the team. Team members are selected from veteran applicants who must undertake, and pass, a series of stringent physical, psychological and firearms proficiency tests. Team members are on call to respond to an incident twenty-four hours a day.

The team has also added a six man Perimeter Team who serve as "reserve" tactical officers and are called up on major events when needed. They train with the SWAT team one day a month and must complete a Basic SWAT School after being chosen. Regular SWAT members are chosen from Perimeter Team members.

The team is used in a number of high risk and high profile situations. Departmental policy allows the team to be used during the following:

  • Hostage incidents
  • Barricaded suspect incidents
  • Sniper incidents
  • High-risk warrant execution
  • High-risk situations as directed by the Chief of Police or his designee;
  • Dignitary protection details
  • Any incident to which the HNT responds (the SWAT team commander may order a limited SWAT team call-out for certain incidents to which HNT responds).
Over the years the team has been able to successfully resolve a number of incidents. One such incident occurred on the evening of Thursday, January 27, 2000 the entire team was called out to respond to an incident that occurred earlier that evening. At approximately 6:10 p.m., a sixteen year old boy was walking home when he was approached by two other teenage boys, one aged eighteen and the other sixteen.

The two suspects drew a revolver, forced the sixteen year old to his knees, held the revolver to his head, and robbed him. They then ran into a nearby unmarked apartment and locked themselves in. The suspects refused to leave the apartment and threatened to kill the robbery victim's uncle.

Unfortunately, the apartment didn't have a telephone to allow the HNT to began negotiations with the two suspects. Luckily the team was able to obtain permission to enter the residence from it's occupant, and he provided the team with a key to the front door.

Using the key an entry team entered the front door while a HNT negotiator yelled for the two suspects to come out. The entry team took both of the suspects into custody without them putting up a struggle, but neither suspect had the revolver. After conducting a short search of the apartment the revolver was recovered.

Another incident took place on the evening of Thursday, December 14, 2000 when patrol officers were called to a home at 509 Ely Road around 9:15 PM on a domestic violence call. The two officers entered the home and found the man who lived there, 44-year-old James Harold Brooks, wearing camouflage clothing, body armor, a gas mask, and armed with several assault rifles and assorted other weapons. He had apparently been drinking since early in the evening, and had reportedly beaten his wife and adult daughter. Brooks had a long history of domestic violence. Police records revealed that they had answered six calls to Brooks' residence in the four months proceeding the shooting.

Initially, the two officers were able to carry on a conversation with Brooks and were able to remove several handguns and at least one shotgun from the home. When Brooks became agitated and began to threaten the two officers, they requested the assistance of the SWAT team.

As they arrived at the scene, the team's primary objective was to secure the area and to safely allow the two patrol officers to exit Brooks' home. They immediately began evacuating residents of nearby homes and apartments, but as the two officers began backing out of the house, Brooks came at them with a MAC 90 assault rifle. Before he could fire a shot, a SWAT officer fired several rounds from his HK-53 rifle. The rounds penetrated Brook's body armor, striking him in the chest. After falling, Brooks lifted the assault rifle toward the officers again, and a second SWAT officer fired several rounds from his HK MP-5, also striking the suspect in the chest area. At least one of the rounds hit Brooks the heart.

The team's paramedic was only a few yards away from Brooks when he was hit, and immediately began treating his wounds. The team's surgeon, Dr David Ciraulo, a trauma surgeon, ran from the command post to the house and also began to administer aid to the Brooks. Brooks was rushed to the hospital, but due to the severity of his wounds, he died a shortly after arrival. After the shooting, it was found that the rifle was loaded and ready to fire. Two 30 round magazines were taped together on the weapon.

In 1999, the SWAT team physician, Dr. David Ciraulo, conducted a continuing series of basic trauma life support classes for SWAT officers. The team's paramedic assisted him with this training. Each tactical officer was issued a medical kit and was trained in its use.

In addition to their own extensive training program the CPD SWAT team also regularly attends training provided by the NTOA, the Tennessee Tactical Police and Paramedics Association (TTPPA), the Southeast Regional SWAT Competition, and other organizations.

Officers assigned to the team are equipped with a variety of specialized weapons and equipment not normally available to other officers. The standard issue sidearm of the Chattanooga SWAT Team is the Heckler & Koch USP Tactical .45 caliber pistol. Team members carry the Heckler and Koch MP-5 or the sound suppressed MP-5SD 9mm submachine-gun as their primary entry weapon. Team members also have access to HK-53, Colt M-16, and M-4 .223 caliber rifles when additional firepower is needed. The unit's sniper teams use Remington 700 rifles chambered for .308 and 300 Winchester Magnum rounds. The team has several 37mm grenade/gas launchers for use with less lethal impact munitions (beanbag and baton rounds) as well as standard tear gas rounds.

Each SWAT officer is issued the following equipment:

  • "Fritz" style Kevlar ballistic helmet
  • Protective eye wear
  • Radio headset
  • Body armor
  • Boots
  • Camouflage Battle Dress Uniform set
  • Olive drab green Battle Dress Uniform set
  • Equipment vest
  • Belt and thigh holster
  • Gas mask and carrying case
  • Gore-Tex rain gear
  • Kevlar gloves

The SWAT team uses three vans when deploying to calls. One van is equipped as a command post and communications center, one is an equipment van, and the third is used as a transport vehicle. The team has two rigid inflatable boats (RIB) which were obtained from the US Navy SEALs. The team makes use of a variety of electronic and video equipment during hostage/barricade situations.