By CLINT FOSTER
Meet the Palo Pinto Sheriff’s Office Tactical Team.
This elite, 10-member group – which was present at Tuesday’s emergency preparedness exercise at Mineral Wells High School – responds to high-risk situations throughout Palo Pinto County, including narcotics entries, search warrants, barricaded subjects and hostage situations.
They are the local version of a Special Weapons And Tactics unit, which Palo Pinto County Sheriff Ira Mercer calls “the tip of the sword.”
“The Tac Team is definitely the elite bunch. If you’ve got to put some rubber on the road, that’s who I’m going to send,” Mercer said. “They’re a specialized unit. They can be in a house and have it cleared in 30 seconds. So, they have capabilities that a regular street cop might not have.”
The Tac Team boasts an impressive arsenal, complete with three types of automatic weapons, door-breaching guns, tear gas, less-than-lethal weapons that shoot bean bags and other projectiles often used for riot control and a 40 mm grenade launcher.
Mercer said the team is required to go through an exaustive training process to legally allow them to use these weapons. They practice every Wednesday for continued education and techniques that train them in all aspects of entry.
Mercer said it costs about $4,000 to dress out each member of his team. In all, he said he has spent in the neighborhood of $50,000 on training and equipment to get his team ready.
“We’ve spent a bunch of time and money putting them through all those different kinds of schools,” he said. “I spent a little bit of taxpayer dollars on this, mostly on training, but most of it came from drug forfeitures. That’s one of the main things they do is drug warrants, so I feel like that’s legitimate.”