The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team for the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, hasn’t been active since spring of last year.
“When we started to see personnel shortages, it really impacted our patrol division,” Sheriff Nathan Sickler says.
Sheriff Sickler says it was a decision made by prior leadership, in an effort to maintain patrol resources. He says it wasn’t an easy one.
“To put that on hiatus and say, ‘we’re not gonna do it’ yeah I think it was disappointing,” Sheriff Sickler says, “but at the end of the day I think we came back stronger, and more organized and have more personnel, so I think it’s for the better.”
That initial disappointment has now turned to delight, as 8 months of training is preparing the 18-member team to go operational again.
“I’m excited,” Sgt. Jesse Ainsworth says.
“We’re happy to bring it back cause they really truly enjoy this aspect of the job,” Sheriff Sickler adds, “and so we’re happy to provide that opportunity for them and our citizens.”
Once the team gets the green light, they’ll be able to respond to critical incidents.
“High risk search warrants, responding to barricaded subjects, hostage rescues, dignitary protection,” Sgt. Ainsworth explains.
Unlike a responding patrol deputy, the SWAT team has specialized tools and training they can bring to high-risk calls. Meaning the return of the team will allow them to better protect officers, and the public, when it’s needed most.
“It’s a great responsibility and we look forward to getting out there and helping out,” Sgt. Ainsworth says.
When the sheriff’s office was without a SWAT team it relied on a partnership with Medford Police. The team plans to be active in September.