Sheriff's office trains to fight crime on the water with boats and helicopters

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The police boat with SWAT team aboard
plows through the water toward the target

Photos and Text by Steven H. Robinson

King County Sheriff’s Office arranged a training exercise for local and federal law enforcement organizations which was held in Elliott Bay and Puget Sound on Wednesday, May 25.

The scenario was a threat aboard the pedestrian ferry, the MV Sally Fox. The SWAT teams would need to board the vessel to identify and deal with the threat.

Teams gather for a pre-exercise safety briefing

SWAT teams from King County Sheriff’s Office including Shoreline Police TAC30, Seattle Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation participated in the exercise.

Marine units from King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle Police and Customs and Border Patrol as well as air units from King County Sheriff’s Office (Guardian 1 (Bell 206B3), Guardian 2 (UH-1H) and Customs Border Patrol (SH-60 Blackhawk). Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police were observers of the exercise as well as 12 members of the local media.

The scenario involved a problem on the King County
pedestrian ferry, MV Sally Fox 

This maritime exercise involved a King County pedestrian ferry, MV Sally Fox, as a site for the SWAT teams to have numerous opportunities to board the vessel from various law enforcement patrol boats or helicopters. The exercise started in the Harbor Island area of Seattle and continued up to the area of Discovery Park.

This exercise provided opportunities to board a moving vessel and look for suspects and hostages. This training would be valuable in officers gaining experience rappelling on to a moving vessel or boarding a moving vessel.

SWAT Teams rappel from Guardian One
onto the moving vessel

Officers gained experience in approaching and boarding a moving vessel as well as moving through cramped areas of a vessel while fully dressed in SWAT uniforms and carrying various kinds of equipment.

The exercise continued into the evening where teams used their night vision equipment.

They were also able to test the ability communicate using different radios between the local and federal law enforcement agencies who would respond to such an incident.

Shoreline Police were part of the training

At the end of the exercise all participants reviewed the exercise and listed the things learned and what could be improved as related to any real life event.

This realistic training is important if a criminal event occurred on a ship of any size from a tour boat to a cruise ship in any of the waterways in or bordering King County.


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