(WKRG) SPANISH FORT, Ala. (WKRG) — The Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office reports five homicides for 2021. Spanish Fort Police report none, but officers in the city are training for the future and for crime that could come.
Spanish Fort Police is launching the city’s first SWAT team. Chief John Barber said, “We’re starting from scratch, and so this is kind of the fundamentals of the foundation that we needed to get started.”
Chief Barber suited up alongside some of his officers for the SWAT training. WKRG News 5 cameras got an exclusive look at what’s involved.
“That was the culmination of a full week of training and tactics. It was physically demanding mentally demanding. There’s quite a bit that goes into it,” said Barber.
The City of Mobile has its own full-time SWAT team, while cities on the Eastern Shore dually train their officers so they are SWAT certified. Spanish Fort may not see as much crime as other parts of our area, but Barber says Baldwin County is growing fast.
“Spanish Fort’s the second fastest city in growth in the state of Alabama, so with growth comes other issues,” said Barber. “We have a very low crime rate right now. That’s a great thing. That’s something that we’re trying to make sure we keep going forward, but no community is absent of crime. No community doesn’t have issues.”
Recent incidents also push police toward needing a SWAT team of their own.
Chief Barber said, “Just a year and a half ago. For us, one of the things that made me realize that we need to make sure we’re properly trained and equipped was the Bass Pro incident. We had an individual that showed up on a Saturday morning shot over 50 rounds into the store trying to make entry. We were very close to having that active shooter here in our community. Our officers responded, did an outstanding job that day, but it just goes to show you that any given day. Any given department could be facing a situation where they need those officers that are highly trained, having proper equipment, and that are able to bring the situation to a good conclusion as well.”
Chief Barber told WKRG News 5, while the week of training may be over, his department is just getting started working toward launching their SWAT program.
He said, “Next year when they have the next school, we’ll be sending additional officers, but in the meantime we’re working on training.