special weapons and tactics
The Port of Seattle Police department is one of six member agencies that make up Valley SWAT (VSWAT), a regional tactical team. VSWAT is composed of six officers and one commander from the cities of Auburn, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, Tukwila and the Port of Seattle.
This regional team was formed to counter increasing occurrences of violent encounters, and the team’s mission is to provide resolution to high-risk situations beyond the ability of police patrol units to resolve safely.
The large number of highly trained and well equipped officers allows:
- Safe and effective response to potentially volatile situations on all port properties
- Access to the largest tactical team in the State of Washington.
- Benefit of paying for 1/6 of the cost of the team.
In 2014, VSWAT responded to 70 total missions, 11 of which were in POSPD jurisdiction.
The Port of Seattle Police Department (POSPD) has a significant Leadership position in the Team. We provide:
- One of four Tactical Team Leaders.
- The team Training Officer.
- The team’s Lead Commander.
VSWAT duties include:
- High-risk warrant service.
- Dignitary protection.
- Armed barricade suspect resolution.
- Hostage rescue.
In addition, the tactical expertise of team members was integral in efforts to successfully train all POSPD members on tactics, strategies, equipment and techniques to defeat “active shooters.” Each of these missions has inherent risks that could severely impact the reputation and operational integrity of the Port of Seattle. By incorporating the depth and breadth of talent and abilities within VSWAT, we are able to manage, minimize and mitigate potential threats, maximize synergy through staffing and budgetary leverage while minimizing our overall investment.
VSWAT has an outstanding reputation within our region, enhancing the status of individual team members and the POSPD as a whole. Leaders have served at a variety of high-profile positions in the law enforcement industry including executive level leadership on the Washington State Tactical Officers Association (www.wstoa.org), service on National Institute of Justice (http://www.nij.gov) Technology Working Groups, service as an expert reviewer on the capabilities of other Teams in the region, and instruction at SWAT Basic.
Crisis Negotiations Unit (CNU)
The members of this specialized unit are trained to analyze conflict situations and determine the best route to resolve incidents safely. Trained to defuse highly stressed individuals, they negotiate and resolve volatile situations such as hostage taking, hijacking and potential suicides.
Valley Crisis Communication Unit
The CNU officers are also members of a joint Valley Crisis Communication Unit. Comprised of negotiators from Auburn, Renton, Tukwila, Kent and Federal Way Police Departments, this unit is available to assist any member department when multiple negotiators are needed. The merging of teams also provides for great training, more equipment, and allows for a variety of perspectives when critiquing recent incidents.
The unit's four members - one sergeant and three officers - are required to successfully complete a 40-hour basic hostage negotiation class before they can actively participate in any hostage, barricade, suicidal or other crisis situation.
The most common tool utilized is hostage negotiation is the "throw" phone, which keeps communication between the suspect and negotiator only. The alternative is a "Hailer," a loud speaker used when a suspect is in an open or difficult to reach area.