The Seventh Annual Chris Parsons SEMO SWAT Challenge was held over the weekend at the Fredericktown Fire Police Community Coalition Training Facility off South Chamber Drive in Fredericktown.
Fredericktown Police Chief Eric Hovis said the weekend’s event was very successful overall, despite the nasty weather on Thursday.
“It started off slow with the rain,” he said. “But, if it ain’t rainin’, you ain’t trainin’. That’s what some of our old sergeants have told us going up through law enforcement.”
Thursday was training day, where the competition was put on hold and specialized trainers came in to improve and refresh the skills of the officers.
The rainy morning did not deter these professionals as they worked hard even as their boots became covered in mud and their uniforms became soaked.
“These guys did just tremendous,” Hovis added. “Everybody stayed safe, we had a lot of networking and a lot of sharing with the debriefings and training.”
When police officers are in high personal risk situations SWAT can provide protection, support, security, firepower, and rescue where their specialized tactics will help to minimize casualties.
“When a situation arises I want people to feel like they can count on us because we are prepared for anything,” Hovis said. “I am always looking for ways to improve our department and to help us grow. It is our job as police officers and my job as chief of police to make sure our town is safe and our citizens feel they can count on us.”
Hovis said regardless of the size of the town an incident requiring the response of a SWAT team can happen.
“There have been many stories in the news,” Hovis said. “Many of these being in small towns that were thrown into the spotlight when tragedy struck without warning.”
Hovis said he has heard some of the comments from the public questioning the need for a SWAT team within the community.
“We are the first line of defense and we are thankful we don’t have to use our tools as often as some cities but we are grateful to have them,” Hovis said. “When a community does not have a SWAT team their options in a tactical situation are limited.”
Hovis said SWAT is a life-saving entity that uses specific tools to keep the situation much more controlled.
“Training events like this one help keep our skills fresh,” Hovis said. “As in any activity in order to be proficient and improve we have to practice regularly.”
Hovis said it is important to gather together yearly and make those connections with the neighboring teams.
“We build the camaraderie by training together as well as by adding the competitive aspect into the weekend,” Hovis said. “While the main goal of the weekend is to train, we can’t do anything without making a competition out of it. It drives us to be better and to train harder.”
St. Louis City took home the first place trophy for the overall competition with Jefferson County in second, Cape Girardeau PD in third, Fredericktown in fourth and Farmington in fifth. Cape Girardeau PD took home the Top Shot award thanks to Rich McCall and the Sniper award thanks to Cody Farrow.