The Paducah Police Department recognizes that the utilization of a highly trained, highly skilled police tactical unit has been shown to substantially reduce the risk of flight, resisting arrest, evidence destruction, injury or loss of life to citizens, police officers, and suspects. The primary responsibility of the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT) is to respond to and resolve high-risk, critical incidents in a tactical manner that is designed to reduce injury or prevent the loss of life to citizens, police officers, and suspects. The SWAT team has the ability to resolve major incidents with minimal use of force, personal injury, and property damage. Armed and barricaded subjects, high-risk search warrants, and arrest warrants for dangerous criminals generally garner the response of the SWAT team.
The decision to call the SWAT team into action is based on a decision-making matrix. The matrix, developed by the Legal & Liability Risk Management Institute and approved by the Kentucky League of Cities, requires police to consider the type of crime, the criminal history of the person being sought, and what type of weapons may be accessible to the person before making the decision to use the level of force a SWAT team may apply. Each criteria is scored, and based on the score, police may or may not utilize the team.
SWAT was utilized five times during 2017, two of which were to assist other police agencies outside of Paducah. In 2016, SWAT was utilized on two occasions to assist other police agencies. One of the incident involved a fugitive who had shot two police officers and was barricaded in an abandoned house. The other was for the service of a search warrant at the hoe of a robbery suspect with a prior conviction for attempted murder of a police officers. In 2015, the SWAT team was called out once when a violent suspect barricaded himself inside a home. In 2014, the team was used a total of three times, twice against barricaded subjects and once for a high-risk warrant service. In 2013, SWAT was needed in two incidents with one involving a high-risk felony drug operation and the other involving a suspected barricaded subject who was armed with a shotgun. In 2012, the team was called out twice, once for a barricaded subject and once to assist with a high-risk search warrant. In 2011, the SWAT team was called out seven times. Of these calls, four were to assist with the execution of arrest warrants on violent felons, and the other three were to assist with the execution of high-risk search warrants.
To be selected for the SWAT team, officers are required to pass a higher level of physical fitness standard than regular officers, pass advanced firearms qualifications, and demonstrate the ability to handle themselves in the most stressful types of police incidents.
The SWAT team trains twice monthly and usually attends a three-day training course once a year at a regional military training facility in Kentucky. They also spend additional time on the firing range and are on-call 24 hours a day. The team meets national standards by training 16 hours a month.