CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Cheyenne Police Department has many departments which work to aid the local community, and the most specialized of these groups is the SWAT Team.
The Cheyenne Police/Laramie County Sheriff’s joint Special Weapons and Tactics team is designed to handle situations that are typically higher risk than normal, requiring resources beyond the capacity of the patrol division.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions with the SWAT team,” said Lt. Brett Durante, the SWAT team commander. “We want people to know when we are operating in residential areas and work to share as much information as we can during a mission, without compromising the investigation.”
Some of the specific situations which SWAT handles include high-risk apprehensions, hostage situations, active shooters and riots.
To prepare for any scenario at any time, the SWAT team trains a minimum of two days each month in addition to its normal patrol duties, and those who wish to join the SWAT team need to go through a rigorous selection process.
“First, you have to be selected,” said Lt. Durante. “New members will be on probation for one year from the date they are placed on the team. Then we do a peer review; I ask sergeants about the candidates that are testing, and then we put them through a selection day. They have to do a PT test, they have to do shooting drills, they have to do problem-solving exercises and memory exercises. We have about 10 different things that we test them on. And then at the end of the day, they are rated against their peers.”
When it comes to actual missions, the department sometimes plans weeks in advance to prepare. If there is SWAT in an area, Lt. Durante asks that people keep a reasonable distance from the area of operation and respect officers on the scene.
“I have listened to some of the concerns in our community, and when the SWAT team is involved, it is because we are charged with safely handling a dangerous and unpredictable situation. Sometimes that means using equipment designed to protect people with the minimal amount of force necessary,” Lt. Durante said. “Some agencies across the country overutilize the SWAT team, and we’re at no risk of the Cheyenne Police Department doing that.”