SWAT team trains locally


Perry Continente, @perrycontinente

Pittsburg SWATmoved with military precision storming Corteva agriscience, Agriculture Division of DowDuPont, from their dock Friday in a joint training drill between the police force and the company.

The SWAT team crossed a wet flatland in the shadow of the towering salt piles as they infiltrated the compound after disembarking from a new police boat piloted up the canal. The team moved and operated with hand signals and quickly communicated their tactical approach while maintaining a perimeter and securing the area for the safety of the team. The air was tense as the men barked orders at each other and assessed the situation efficiently, each clad in a tactical mask that obscured their faces and combat fatigues making them look more like a military force during a beach landing than local police.

They then assaulted the chemical plant’s control room apprehending the officers posing as hostage takers and rescuing the plant employees who were taken ‘hostage.’

“We love doing this kind of thing,” said Swat Sargent William Hatcher who led the assault, explaining that similar drills are run by the officers around the community, “we do schools too, we do all sorts of on site training.”

The event was not only to drill the SWAT team, but also for Corteva to test its own emergency procedures, overseeing the proceedings was Justin Smith, an Emergency Services and Security Technologist Leader at the company who explained that the company and site is constantly drilling and training for emergency events, “we’ve done drills with the Fire Department, Chemical spills, mass casualties, rescue training,” said Smith explaining the various drills that the plant is constantly undergoing.

Among the Corteva staff participating in the drill was Kristen Haehl, a Production Engineer at the company who was playing the part of a concerned employee who had heard gunshots, “I’ll see how this goes,” said Haehl as she rode out to her position as the drill began.

As the drill winded down the hostages were rescued and the hostage takers were apprehended, the previously stoic SWAT team began to unwind, the tactical masks removed to reveal smiling and laughing men, a far cry from their demeanor during the drill.

Both the Employees and SWAT then settled down for a barbeque dinner before discussing the particulars of the drill.

“I am very proud of our performance,” said Smith, although he did also notice certain security improvements that could be made, citing the PA system as an area that needed improvement as all parties on site did not adequately receive the warning message.

On the side of SWAT, Hatcher emphasized how important the event was for his team, “these drills are just as important for us,” he said.