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Officers Drill To Control Hostage Situation

JESSUP — Members of the Lackawanna County SWAT team need to prepare for some of the worst “what-ifs” imaginable. They went through tough training on Wednesday that taught them how to end a hostage situation in a matter of just seconds.

For members of the Lackawanna County SWAT team, a big yellow school bus parked outside the 911 Center in Jessup was a stage. It’s used to play out a scary scenario that these officers hope they never experience but need to be prepared for.

What if someone held bus passengers hostage? How would the SWAT team get everyone to safety?

“Over the last three days, this team has come together better. They’re stronger. They’ve learned new tactics and they’re prepared for a situation like this,” said Archbald Police Chief Tim Trently.

Members of the SWAT team paid for the special training through their own fundraisers.

A team from the National Tactical Officers Association in Doylestown taught the officers exactly what to do if there are hostages on something like a school bus.

Photographer Mike Cholko and I helped play the role of hostages. We had to wear heavy duty helmets. The drill started with a big bang.

Those are fake screams from interns with the Drug Enforcement Administration. The whole drill is supposed to last only seconds.

“You can only be able to maneuver, identify, and shoot as fast as you can,” said Joe “JC” Comstock, National Tactical Officers Association.

Comstock say the big bang is like a firework: harmless but meant to distract a suspect and give the SWAT team a head start. Officers went through the scenario about a dozen times.

“To get somebody from the outside showing us what to do so that we can get better, that’s good,” said Moscow Police Patrolman Brian Layland.


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