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Township police join sheriff's SWAT team

By Kevin Elliott

The Bloomfield Township Police Department is joining the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, following approval by the township’s board of trustees on Monday, February 13.

The SWAT team focuses on high-risk situations, and consists of sheriff’s deputies and officers from more than a dozen police departments throughout Oakland County to provide multi-jurisdictional responses.

Bloomfield Township Police Chief James Gallagher said the multi-jurisdictional team is more cost effective than each department operating their own team.

“We provide the manpower and salary if they are called out,” Gallagher said. “We pay overtime if (the officer) is needed outside of regular duty.”

Gallagher said the team responds to incidents about once a month, both inside Oakland County and assisting other agencies when needed. The team responds to incidents such as hostage situations, barricaded standoffs and other high-risk situations.

“The most recent use of the team in the township was a year ago this week,” Gallagher said. “It was the same night as the Oakland Hills fire, and there was an armed robbery out of Waterford that was tracked to Bloomfield Township, where the subjects' barricaded themselves in a home.”

Bloomfield Township Treasurer Brian Kepes commended Gallagher for bringing the agreement to the board and working with other departments.

“I think the more relationships we have with other departments, the better off we are as a community and the better off we are as a department,” Kepes said.

In addition to the SWAT team, the township participates in other multi-jurisdictional teams, including the Oakland County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit; violent crimes and gang task force; identity theft task force; and a special surveillance unit headed by the Troy Police Department. Gallagher said he hopes to have the department join a multi-county DEA task force in the future.

Gallagher said the partnerships provide an opportunity to the police department, as well as the individual officer selected to join the team, with career opportunity being one of the main factors of retaining employees.

Officers on the team train throughout the year, in addition to intensive summer training at Camp Grayling. Officers must go through an intensive selection process.

“We use an internal selection process with this, and they usually do their selection in May. Just because we select an internal candidate, they still have to go through a rigorous training process through Oakland County, and they don’t cut corners,” Gallagher said. “If we pick our best, and they don’t make the physical requirements or the shooting requirements, then we wait a year or until they have another selection process. These are very advanced teams, and we have to have the best of the best willing to do the work.”


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