|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
Local officers begin SWAT training
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – In an effort to provide greater officer safety when serving “hazardous warrants,” city and county law enforcement officers have begun SWAT training. The “Special Weapons and Tactics” program is being taught by Pct. 2 Constable Sterling Johnson and training materials and tuition are being funded through the Trinity County Crime Stoppers program. As recently as January, the need for such a local unit was demonstrated when Trinity Police Chief Steve Jones requested assistance from the San Jacinto County SWAT unit. Jones was faced serving an arrest warrant where there was a strong possibility that a suspect might resist using firearms. According to Crime Stoppers officials, Jones and Trinity County Sheriff Ralph Montemayor have both supported the formation of a local unit to handle situations involving difficult arrests or armed standoffs. However, organizing a local SWAT unit has been difficult due to the high cost of training and the time constraints that make it difficult to release officers from their normal duties for the 60 hours of instruction. When Crime Stoppers officials learned of the need, they contacted Johnson to see if a local program could be developed to meet the needs of the local departments. Johnson then contacted the Angelina College Police Academy, where he has served as an instructor for the past eight years. He received approval to develop the local program and began classes in May. Currently nine officers from the Trinity Police Department and Trinity County Sheriff’s Department are taking part in the SWAT course. Once they complete the training, the new SWAT unit will give local law enforcement officials an “in county” option when they are faced with dangerous situations. In addition to serving “high risk” warrants, in the past out-of-county SWAT teams have been brought in situations where a suspect has barricaded himself in a building, sometime with hostages. While the Crime Stoppers program is paying for the officers’ tuition and training materials, other local businesses are helping with some of the other expenses. Atchley Lumber Co. has provided building materials for the training facility while Lake Area Welding has provided metal targets. Johnson also has contacted Dominic Diamond of Trinity County Paintball for assistance. Diamond accessed needed training materials and will eventually train volunteers to assist with the continuing officer instruction. Having retired in 1999 after 20 years of active duty with the U.S. Army, Johnson served for five years as a platoon sergeant in an airborne infantry company before undergoing Special Forces training with the army’s Green Beret. He served in the Special Forces for 13 years until his retirement. During his military career, he completed military instructor’s school and served three tours of duty as a parachute instructor, psychological warfare trainer and as a Soviet Order of Battle Technician. After leaving the army, Johnson worked for five years with the Phoenix, Ariz. Police Department on its tactical unit. The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE) awarded him an instructor and firearms instructor certifications in 2003. He completed the FBI Hostage Negotiator Course in 2005 and became a certified police sniper in 2010. Johnson also completed the SWAT training earlier this year. Johnson also currently holds a master’s degree in education from Weber University and a master of science degree from Amber University. He also earned designation as a Certified Manager from The Institute for Certified Professional Managers at James Madison University and has been awarded TCLEOSE’s medal for academic achievement at the master’s level.