As Grove City’s 12-member special-forces team held firearms training last Monday, Columbus police officers trailed two shooting suspects into a Grove City home.

Some people consider suburban SWAT teams unnecessary and even wasteful because Columbus police and the Franklin County sheriff’s office already assist smaller departments, but Grove City cites last week’s incident – in which it also responded to the scene – in defending its unit.

If the larger forces had been occupied with another incident, it would have been worth it for Grove City to have its own, the argument goes.

“They’re like insurance policies,” Grove City Police Capt. Steve Robinette said of suburban SWAT teams. “Sometimes you have to wonder if it’s money well-spent – until you have to cash it in.”

The team was called on 10 missions last year. In addition to surveillance and search-warrant service, there was one household-barricade situation.

The team costs about $33,000 in overtime and $26,000 in training.

This year, it has served one search warrant and had two barricade standoffs, including last Monday’s, said Lt. Jeff Pearson, the team leader.

Grove City’s team accompanied those from Columbus and Franklin County – about 20 vehicles and 50 officers in all – to evacuate homes, surround the suspects and control traffic during the four-hour standoff that ended peacefully.

Many SWAT and tactical-entry teams were formed with drug-forfeiture money in the late 1980s, when cocaine-related killings were rampant, said Jim Scanlon, a 33-year Columbus SWAT member.

Source: Dean Narciso for The Columbus Dispatch.

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