OAKLAND — Inspired by their memories of four brother officers fatally shot March 21, an Oakland police SWAT team this past weekend won a prestigious training competition, beating out 26 other law enforcement agencies from as far away as Boston and France.
Of the eight-officer team that won the 2009 Urban Shield Competition, Chief Anthony Batts said Tuesday, "I am very proud of the (department's) tactical team. This is a truly great accomplishment despite facing much adversity this year. The team has taken to heart the crucial elements of any police department: hard work, dedication and teamwork."
The 2009 competition was the third annual and was held at several Bay Area locations from Saturday morning straight through to Monday morning. It is considered one of the premier tactical training exercises anywhere and involved 25 realistic training scenarios.
The scenarios included hostage rescue on ships and airplanes, barricaded suspects, active shooters and a weapons of mass destruction incident. Teams were required to respond successfully to each of the staged scenarios with proper tactics using specialized weapons and equipment.
The event was dedicated to the memory of Oakland Sgts. Mark Dunakin, Erv Romans and Dan Sakai and Officer John Hege, who all were fatally shot March 21 by a man who was later killed.
"They were on the minds of everyone from OPD who competed," said Officer Jeff Thomason, the department's
Romans and Sakai were SWAT team members. Sakai's wife, Jennifer, and team leader Sgt. Pat Gonzales accepted the first-place award Monday night aboard the USS Hornet in Alameda from Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern, whose agency co-sponsored the event with the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office and had a team participate.
"It was obvious by the way (Oakland) competed they were on a mission to win this for their fallen brothers. Everyone was very proud and emotional at their well-deserved victory. And I, too, couldn't be more proud of them," Ahern said.
Gonzales, who was wounded March 21 when the man who killed the Oakland officers was slain in a gunfight with SWAT team members, and Sgt. Roland Holmgren were team leaders in the competition. Other team members were Officers Anwawn Jones, Frank Uu, Chris Saunders, Casey Johnson, Marty Ziebarth and Shane Tarum.
Oakland SWAT officers are part of the department's 60-member Tactical Team and has five elements: command, entry, sniper, negotiation and tactical dispatchers.
Besides Oakland police and the Alameda and San Mateo sheriff's departments, other local teams included the Berkeley, San Leandro, Hayward, Fremont, Union City, Newark, Livermore, Richmond, Palo Alto and San Jose police departments, the Marin County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and the CHP.