Traffic project turns tactical for Maricopa SWAT team

Posted at 6:13 AM, Apr 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-27 10:13:30-04

A house set to be demolished is giving the Maricopa Police Department SWAT team a unique chance to prepare for high-risk situations. 

"ADOT reached out to us and asked if there was any training that we wanted to do on these properties before they actually tore down the buildings," Chief Steve Stahl told ABC15.

"This gives us the opportunity to press the limits a little bit so that we don't have to worry about damaging property -- we can actually use more of the tools that they have at their call."

The home off Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway will be bulldozed in the next few weeks to make way for a bridge that will carry State Route 347 over nearby railroad tracks. So far, Maricopa police have used the property three times to train. Most recently, members of the department's tactical team used flash bangs and a battering ram during a high-risk search warrant simulation. 

"Our mission is the same as their mission -- it's public safety," said ADOT spokesman Tom Herrmann. "We're building these roads to try to make the roads safer. They're trying to work to make this community safer."

Herrmann says countless times over the past 25 years, the agency has allowed first responders to train in and around soon-to-be-demolished buildings. Last summer, properties along the South Mountain Freeway project were used to train more than a dozen police and fire departments. 

"This is a unique opportunity for them to train on a real house instead of something that's set up," Herrmann said.