Members from two of Pasco County’s SWAT teams, deputies and New Port Richey police officers, had trained together for about a year, but starting now, they will be combined into one unit.
The new unified force will work countywide.
Sheriff Chris Nocco and New Port Richey Police Chief Jeff Harrington announced the combining of the SWAT units during a brief demonstration of the team’s training Wednesday at Middle School in Land O’ Lakes.
It could be the first such combined team in the state Nocco said.
“It’s something you rarely see out there,” he said.
New Port Richey’s department had about 12 SWAT team members, Harrington said.
The combined Swat has about 55 members, Nocco said.
“It’s going to make another layer of protection for our citizens,” he said.
The move wasn’t originally conceived as a cost saving measure, but will result in some savings for the city, especially during training because not as many officers will be at the training sessions at one time, Harrington said.
“They will have the same command element, the same uniforms and the same monthly training,” he said.
The number of members means the SWAT team can deploy significant force.
“We can dominate any situation,” the chief said.
The two SWAT teams will use the best of their combined equipment, he said.
The two teams had trained together but also trained as separate units, Nocco said.
And there will be a saving for taxpayers over time, he said.
The city’s officers had to be deputized so they have jurisdiction to operate outside New Port Richey limits, the sheriff said.
The unit will be fully integrated with no distinction between police department or sheriff’s office members, Nocco said.
“When they go through that door, they’re one team, sheriff, police, sheriff or police,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what badge you wear.”
The sheriff’s office will work with the county’s other cities to see if there are more ways to combine resources, Nocco said.