By Brandi Makuski
Area law enforcement officers spent Tuesday running around in heavy SWAT gear and shooting at everything downrange.
The third annual Central Wisconsin SWAT Competition, hosted this year by the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Special Response Team, saw about 40 participants from police and sheriff’s departments in Portage, Wood and Marathon counties.
Portage Co. Detective Travis Morgan said the competition, which travels between counties, was a “friendly one” between the multiple agencies.
“It’s kind of a fun event for us, but it’s not a day off,” Morgan said. “You want these guys to think, focus and act properly when their heart rate is up, when they’re in a stressful situation.”
The event, which was not designed for public spectators, was open to members of SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) and SRT (Special Response Team) throughout the various departments. Four shooting ranges required running, reloading, changing stance and position quickly and hauling heavy weights prior to firing.
Contestants were tested in speed and accuracy firing both pistols and rifles at what Morgan called “little tiny targets” anywhere from 50-200 yards downrange.
The sheriff’s office and local police undergo joint training throughout the year, said Lt. Benjamin Beaudoin, the county’s SWAT commander.
“It’s not everyday we are called to work together between the counties, but it’s not uncommon, either,” Beaudoin said. “It’s important that when we are working together, we do it well. That’s where the training is effective.”
Beaudoin added because Portage County doesn’t have regular SWAT calls, the training is all-the-more necessary so tactical officers can be prepared when they are deployed to an emergency.
Sheriff Mike Lukas called the day a “great one”, saying the event is good for morale and team-building.
“Any time you have an event like this, where it’s an opportunity to test and improve your skills, and maybe have a little fun, it’s a good thing,” Lukas said.