OAKLAND -- An Oakland police SWAT team finished second in a prestigious, internationally known training competition last weekend, losing out to a group of Israeli police but beating more than two dozen other Bay Area law enforcement agencies that participated.
The event was the fourth annual Urban Shield Training Exercise, a 48-hour continuous competition held at dozens of sites around the Bay Area from Oct. 15-18. Oakland won the competition last year.
"This is an outstanding accomplishment for our SWAT team," Oakland police Chief Anthony Batts said in a statement. "To come in second place this year and first place last year proves our proficiency and professionalism in dealing with critical incidents."
Oakland police Lt. Mike Poirier, a SWAT commander, said Thursday he was "very proud" of the team. "This just proves our training and our tactics are among the best."
Oakland team leaders were Sgts. Roland Holmgren and Chris Sansone. Team members were Officers Gregoy Porritt, Christopher Saunders, Eriberto Perez-Angeles, Alan Leal, Thomoso Sotto and Michael Leite. It was the first competition for Sansone, Sotto and Leitte, Holmgren said.
Twenty-nine teams took part. Besides Oakland and Israel and the Bay Area agencies, teams from Jordan and Bahrain participated. Tied for third were SWAT teams from the San Francisco Police Department and San Francisco FBI office. The Alameda County Sheriff's Office, which hosted the event, finished fifth.
This year's competition was designed to strengthen each agency's preparedness to respond to threats or actual domestic terrorist attacks, major disasters and other emergencies. Among the 26 scenarios were hostage rescue, maritime/train interdiction, weapons of mass destruction, and a nuclear facility threat.
Among the sites were Oakland International Airport and the city's C.L. Dellums Amtrak station. In one scenario, Poirier said, participants had to rappel down the inside of the 48-floor Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco.
Oakland SWAT officers are part of the department's 60-member Tactical Team that is divided into five elements: command, entry, sniper, negotiation and tactical dispatchers.
Competing police departments were from Berkeley, UC Berkeley, Fremont, Hayward, Livermore, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Newark, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Richmond, Sacramento, San Leandro, Sunnyvale and Union City. Also participating were the CHP, state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, San Francisco and Sonoma County sheriff's offices.