WPD to add officers to county SWAT team
The Woodburn Police Department will add six of its officers to the Marion County Sheriff's Office interagency SWAT team, the Woodburn City Council decided at its Nov. 13 meeting. The officers added to the county's SWAT team will respond to tactical calls throughout the county, which occur only a few times a year, according to Sheriff Jason Myers.
The Woodburn Police Department has been without a tactical services unit since 2015, when staffing issues and time commitments made maintaining the unit infeasible.
"When I came on board at the end of 2015, I started a comprehensive review of the team and came to the conclusion that we just weren't large enough or healthy enough to support a 15- to 17-person tactical team," Woodburn Police Chief Jim Ferraris said in a presentation at the council meeting.
With the addition of Woodburn officers to the county's interagency team, those officers will be trained and equipped for tactical scenarios.
"We can be an effective presence on that team, have an effective presence in our city, and have that force multiplier to bring that tactical team into our city should an event arise that we needed those services," Ferraris said.
Myers said both the city and the county will benefit from the addition of Woodburn officers.
"This is really a win-win," he said in the presentation. "It's a win for our agency, it's a win for the Woodburn Police Department and it's a win for the community where we can work collaboratively to share resources and keep our community safe."
According to Myers and Ferraris, tactical incidents aren't that common in Woodburn or the county as a whole.
Ferraris said there hasn't been an incident in Woodburn requiring a tactical team in over two years. Myers said the county's tactical team has so far only been deployed twice in 2017.
The six officers added to the county's tactical team will still continue their duties as a Woodburn Police Department officers, but will be called upon to assist in tactical incidents as needed.
The city councilors praised the idea, saying it would allow the city to access SWAT services without needing the resources or training that's required of having a bigger team.
"We're not necessarily out there executing this on a daily basis," Councilor Lisa Ellsworth said. "It's being ready. In the event of an incident we've got people trained, equipped and ready to go."
"I think there's so many things, whether it's infrastructure or personnel or whatever, where you just can't afford to build for the maximum case or volume, or the worst case," said Mayor Kathy Figley at the meeting. "You just do the best you can to be sure where you have a redundancy where it's needed, and you don't necessarily know where it's going to be needed."
The Woodburn Police Department will repurpose the equipment left over from its Tactical Services Unit to contribute to the SWAT team. According to the staff report included in the Nov. 13 agenda packet, the financial impact of the team will be minimal and within the existing service level budget.
The intergovernmental agreement between the county and the city of Woodburn regarding the SWAT team will be effective through Dec. 31, 2022.