TILLMAN COUNTY, Okla._Southwest Oklahoma recently added 17 new reserve officers to help counties that have a lot of land to cover and not enough manpower.
Eleven of those officers are in Tillman County and this week, five of them are advancing their skills by going to a five-day SWAT school in Tillman County.
The course is meant to give officers better knowledge of what to do in a tactical situation, such as a barricaded suspect or a hostage rescue. Monday was spent in the classroom learning about tactical team history, case law in SWAT operations and room entry techniques.
Monday the officers put what they learned in the classroom to the test on the range.
"It's always important to have reserve officers just because it gives more man power to the department," said reserve officer Richard Rivera.
Rivera recently graduated in Tillman County and now is getting more training this week at SWAT school.
"It helps you make better judgment calls if you will. Unlike if they were to just teach you the basics and throw you out on the street, you don't understand everything and it gives you more of a skill set to deal with different situations," said Rivera.
Rivera is one of the 44 reserve officers in Tillman County which may seem like a lot but Sheriff Bobby Whittington says they have 900 miles to cover in addition to their other duties.
"So we rely upon our reserves quite a bit to come in and fill for patrol and to also if a major situation happens out in the county they are usually the first ones there because they are all over the county," said Sheriff Whittington.
Whittington said SWAT training is important for officers because they learn tactical skills that hopefully would prevent the further loss of lives.
"Training never ends. If you want to become proficient, you have to continue the training process. So they'll be more training," said Sheriff Whittington.
During training, these officers will spend between eight to ten hours on the range each day wearing over 40 pounds of gear. That includes four magazines with thirty rounds each, a first-aid kit, distraction devices and handcuffs. Rivera says being a SWAT officer means being able to protect those that need it in a situation that a basic officer couldn't handle.
"It means putting your life on the line for everybody above and beyond the call of duty if you will. Not only that, it also gives you that extra to edge to fight off people that want to do harm to the community," said Rivera.
They will be back on the range Wednesday as well as learning advanced fire arms techniques. Before graduation on Friday, the officers will have to conduct a mock raid on an active shooter.