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The Lakeland Police Department's SWAT Team was established to respond to and address high risk situations which require specialized equipment, techniques and training. Team members are required to have served a minimum tenure within the department before being able to apply for a specialist section such as SWAT. Personnel assigned to the SWAT Team have other full-time assignments within the police department. SWAT Team personnel are selected for team membership based on a range of criteria which include, but are not limited to: problem-solving skills, physical fitness, firearms proficiency, and supervisory recommendations. 

SWAT applicants undergo a rigorous selection and training process. Applicants must pass stringent physical agility, written, oral and psychological testing to ensure they are not only fit enough, but also psychologically suited for tactical operations. Emphasis is placed on physical fitness so an officer will be able to withstand the rigors of tactical operations. After an officer has been selected, they must undertake and pass numerous specialist courses that will make them a fully qualified SWAT operator. Officers are trained in marksmanship for the development of accurate shooting skills. Other training that could be given to team members includes training in explosives, sniper-training, defensive tactics, first-aid, rappelling and roping techniques and the use of specialized weapons and equipment. They may also be trained specifically in the handling and use of special ammunition such as bean bags, flash bang grenades, and the use of crowd control methods, and special less-lethal munitions.

Members of the team receive specialized training from several sources including F.B.I., the National Tactical Association (NTOA), the Florida SWAT Association, and joint training with other local teams. Personnel on Lakeland's SWAT Team have developed proficiency with a number of specialized weapons and with techniques designed to increase their efficiency and safety in dealing with situations where there is a high potential for violence. The use of the specially trained team members decreases the likelihood for resistance and enhances the safety of police personnel, occupants of the residence and the surrounding community.

SWAT may be utilized in the following types of situations:

  • Counter Terrorism Operations
  • Hostage rescue
  • Barricaded subjects
  • High-risk raids, searches, arrests, and warrants
  • Mobile vehicle assaults
  • Manhunt and rural operations
  • Extreme weather operations
  • Intelligence Collection
  • VIP/Dignitary Protection Operations
  • Crowd Control/Field Force Operations



The SWAT team uses different uniforms and equipment depending on the mission, and climate. SWAT members are cross trained in several weapons platforms including counter-sniper rifles, automatic rifles and submachine guns, shotguns, and pistols. They have specialized equipment including heavy body armor, entry tools, and advanced night vision capabilities. SWAT may also utilize ballistic shields, remote audio and visual systems, and less-lethal chemical/munitions systems. Vehicles utilized for SWAT operations including armored vehicles, transport trucks, helicopters, and any other type vehicle necessary to accomplish their mission objectives.



The Hostage Negotiations Team of the Lakeland Police Department was established in 1988. The mission of the Hostage Negotiations team is to defuse potentially life threatening situations through the use of proven verbal crisis management techniques. The Hostage Negotiations Team is made up of 12 highly trained men and women who have completed a basic 40 hour Negotiations course. The team members train bi-monthly and receive extensive training in negotiation techniques and communication skills. Their main goal is to defuse a situation and prevent hostile and/or deadly actions from escalating.

The Hostage Negotiations Team responds to incidents involving suicidal, armed/barricaded and hostage holding individuals. In addition, their duties include establishing communication links, background information, and conducting witness debriefings. The Hostage Negotiations Team works in partnership with the S.W.A.T. Team who provide the tactical protection and response necessary to allow the negotiation process to occur.

HNT Members At Work

The Hostage Negotiations Team is a voluntary on-call unit and all team members have regular duty assignments. The men and women who make up the Hostage Negotiations Team have proven to be dedicated and hard working officers on the Lakeland Police Department. They are committed to ensuring a peaceful resolution to a crisis situation.

31st International S.W.A.T. Round-Up

The Lakeland Police Department sent two S.W.A.T teams to compete in the 31st International S.W.A.T Round-Up from November 10th – 15th, in Orlando, Florida. A total of 57 competition teams, 42 of these teams were from all across the nation and 15 were international teams from Hungary, Stockholm, Kuwait, and Netherlands, just to name a few.

These events are geared for simulation of real life scenarios and are intended to challenge the team as a unit. In addition to the fierce competitions, each competitor & attendee was required to attend educational classes during the week to keep them up on current trends within the S.W.A.T. community. The team members and their support personnel were:

Lakeland Blue  

Sergeant Addison
Sergeant Bowling Jr.
Sergeant Bernhardt
Sergeant Guity
Officer Glass
Officer Kolby Hodge
Officer Chatmon
Officer Yzaguirre
Officer Linton

Lakeland Red

Lieutenant Harper
Lieutenant Tarver
Sergeant Conner
Sergeant Deas
Officer Mathers
Officer Robinson
Officer Gates
Officer Anthony
Officer Kyle Hodge

They participated in 5 different events during the week, each event was designed to test the SWAT operator’s mental ability to adapt to evolving situations, test their shooting skills using different weapons, platforms, and stances, and testing their physical strength and endurance. These courses are designed to have the competitor make quick decisions and shoot accurately in a stressful timed environment, this exposure will help our team perform when a real life critical incident occurs.

The final results: Team Blue finished 3rd overall and Team Red finished 21st overall.

31st International S.W.A.T. Round-Up - 2013