The Gainesville Police SWAT team plans to start operations again March 25.
Gainesville Police has been using Alachua County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team since its own was deactivated about two months ago, said Chief Inspector Jorge Campos. . The department plans to continue using the sheriff’s office team from Jan. 7 to March 25 while its training a new team to start this year.
GPD is also training a new team commander and leader, and it has updated the team’s equipment, firearms, uniforms and vehicles, Campos said. The training and equipment is updated at least every half a year due to changes in the team.
The SWAT team deactivated in November after four members resigned. The resignations came after the local police union sent a letter to the city manager and GPD that criticized how the department handled a shooting at a Nov. 4 concert at the Heart of the City Hookah Lounge.
On Nov. 19, GPD Chief Tony Jones wrote a letter to Alachua Sheriff Sadie Darnell asking for the Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team to handle all calls and search warrants until Jan. 7.
“It isn’t costing us anything because we have the jurisdiction to go into those areas, so helping them was something we were able to do with no added burden,” said Art Forgey, a spokesperson at sheriff’s office.
Since November, the sheriff's office SWAT team has served one warrant for Gainesville Police. It was for a man stabbing someone in the neck.
“This is a really good opportunity,” Forgey said. “We work with other teams around the regions, so this will allow us to work even closer with the Gainesville Police Department. It’s actually a benefit.”