TPD SWAT team trains one day after deadly stand-off

By: Katie Kaplan, WCTV Eyewitness News
September 19, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- WCTV was invited inside a high-risk training scenario on Thursday night. The Tallahassee Police Department's Special Weapons and Tactics Team, otherwise known as SWAT, practiced in Gadsden County one day after a deadly, hours-long stand-off in Leon County.

44-year-old Gabriel Rouse was shot and killed by a member of the Leon County Sheriff Office's SWAT team. LCSO said deputies had responded to a domestic situation when Rouse barricaded himself inside the home and began firing at them. TPD's SWAT team was on hand at the situation as well.

Tallahassee PD'S specialized teams, such as snipers or crisis negotiators, train once a week and meet collectively as SWAT at the Florida Public Safety Institute at least once a month, said FPSI coordinator Michael Rodes.

"Realistic training is what we try to propose," he told WCTV's Katie Kaplan.

The SWAT team trains in full-gear for high-risk scenarios, such as a hostage situation or a suicidal suspect.

"First, what we want to do is isolate the situation," said Sgt. Scott Beck. "Then we will try to talk to the person."

Beck is a crisis negotiator.

The training is conducted as realistic as possible. Each time, a different scenario is given out. People role-play as suspects and civilians. The SWAT team trains on its response.

At the deadly response on Tuesday morning, LCSO said they had responded to a domestic situation. It is of the most dangerous calls that law enforcement can get, said Beck.

"You're going into an unknown location where the offender has the advantage of knowing their layout and knowing their surroundings, more so than the law enforcement," he explained.

Despite all the "worst case" training, Beck said the preferred outcome is a peaceful resolution. However, that is not always how it turns out. Crisis negotiations can go south, the suspect can make a dangerous move and an officer may be forced to shoot.

"That's a very personal decision with each individual officer," Beck said.

Officers must follow state statute and department policy before firing their gun, Beck added.

The ultimate goal is to keep the public safe. TPD invites civilians to join the Citizens Academy to gain first hand knowledge of what they do day-to-day.