Everett, county SWAT teams to join forces

EVERETT — The Everett Police Department and the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office are combining their SWAT teams to save money and pool resources.

The Everett City Council approved the proposal in late December. Sheriff Ty Trenary is expected to sign the agreement any day.

The two teams have been training together for months, and sharing missions for more than a year, officials said.

The plan now is to “blend the teams together to make it more cost-effective, more efficient and to be more seamless in our delivery,” sheriff’s Capt. Tom Davis said.

Everett police Lt. Rod Sniffen, who served as Everett’s SWAT team commander, will continue in that role with the new team.

Sharing the team will give everyone more experience, and create a deeper bench to draw from, he said.

“Conceptually, it’s best practices and the way SWAT teams are going across the country,” Sniffen said. “It’s better to have our resources together.”

For years now, police and fire departments in Snohomish County have been combining speciality teams to create more regional responses.

In 2012, the North Sound Metro SWAT Team formed, including officers from Lynnwood, Edmonds, Mountlake Terrace, Monroe, Bothell and Lake Forest Park. Mill Creek and Kirkland have since joined the team as well.

Talks of a north Snohomish County SWAT team including Marysville started in 2011 but later fell through.

The new Everett and county SWAT team will have 36 members, half from each agency, documents show.

SWAT, or Special Weapons and Tactics, teams respond to high-risk incidents such as those with barricaded suspects, hostages or a sniper.

In 2013, Everett’s SWAT team was deployed on roughly 10 missions, Sniffen said. In addition, there were about a dozen non-SWAT incidents in Everett where a couple of SWAT-trained officers responded to offer assistance.

During the same year, the sheriff’s SWAT leaders were called 28 times to determine whether the team was needed to respond to an incident. Those calls resulted in 12 SWAT missions, eight of which also included Everett police, Davis said.

The agreement for the new shared team goes through 2014 with extensions available for 10 additional years. The contract provides language that could be used to include additional departments later.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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