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story.lead_photo.caption Keith Bryant/The Weekly Vista Bella Vista and Pea Ridge officers attending the departments' joint basic SWAT course enter an out-of-use Bank of Gravett building, while Bella Vista Police Department Lt. Scott Vanatta and Sgt. Eric Palmer observe.

The Bella Vista and Pea Ridge police departments got together last week to train officers for specialized response units using a standard 40-hour SWAT class.

Pea Ridge police Sgt. Michael Lisenbee explained that the Pea Ridge Police Department is putting together a special response unit, while Bella Vista is assembling a tactical response team.

Lisenbee said that he cannot go into detail about the nature of the training, but he was able to say that officers are required to maintain a certain number of annual hours of training. Officers trained at a variety of sites, including a school, commercial and residential structures, to work with and think about a wide array of potential scenarios, he said.

"Every time they're on an emergency call out, it's not going to be a cookie-cutter response," he said.

It's beneficial for the smaller departments to work together, he said, because both have had to rely on outside departments that already have similar teams.

"Make our special response more efficient is what we're trying to do," Lisenbee said.

Bella Vista police chief James Graves previously mentioned establishing this team while addressing the city council during its May 14 work session.

The primary purpose, he said, is to serve no-knock warrants, which are used in cases where there is reason to believe that a subject may be dangerous. Additionally, he said, this unit can be used in the event of an active shooter scenario.

Previously, he said, no-knock warrants in Bella Vista have been served by outside departments, but having this unit will allow Bella Vista police to safely perform them.

Capt. Tim Cook said that, while this may appear that the department is gearing up for more violent confrontations, the goal is to minimize the potential for injury among everyone on the scene, including officers, victims, bystanders and suspects.

"The whole thing is preventative measures," he said. "We don't want to have to use force."

Lt. Scott Vanatta said that the police and fire departments worked together to build this team, with medics coming from the fire department.

Vanatta said he believes Bella Vista has needed a team like this for a long time. In a severe emergency, he said, the department would have to rely on a different agency. It's particularly important to be prepared for an emergency, he said, because Cooper Elementary is in Bella Vista's jurisdiction.

"If it's an active shooter situation, we'll be able to handle it on our own," he said.

While the subject matter may be serious, Vanatta said, the course was still a good time.

"This is a fun thing; we love it," he said.

General News on 05/30/2018

Print Headline: Bella Vista, Pea Ridge police departments collaborate on tactical training class

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