New Albany SWAT team wins recognition at state competition

The New Albany Cobra Unit finished 13th place in the state at a recent state competition in Meridian.

The 2010 Mississippi Tactical Officers Association conference took place Oct. 11-14 and featured a variety of physical events including pistol exertion, obstacle rescue, officer rescue event, and more.
At the MTOA conference, there were members from Special Response Teams, Special Weapons and Tactics teams, Emergency Response teams, and more that participated in this event. The Cobra Unit is a group of volunteer patrolmen who receive training in special weapons and tactics which helps them to be tactical officers.
Last year, Cobra Unit members competed in Tupelo at the MTOA conference. New Albany Police Department officer and Cobra Unit member Sgt. Clay Hogue talked about the difference between last year’s event and this year’s event.
He said, “They put more emphasis on firearms accuracy this year. Most events were just timed events last year, where you were just trying to get the lowest time. This year, you were still trying to get the lowest time but misses on the range resulted in penalties. These penalties would normally be time added to your total time. These penalties made you slow down to make sure each round counted. Meridian has a large complex in which to train, which allowed the staff to run two groups at the same time. All events this year were accomplished as scheduled.”
The MTOA Conference is open to any state, federal, or local agency with tactical officers. Last year there were nineteen teams and this year there were eighteen.
Competitors competed in a variety of events that challenged them physically and mentally. Some of the events are listed below.
The Carbine Night-Fire event was a low-light course in which each team member had one minute and 20 seconds to engage their target from the 50 yard line. No optics with magnification were allowed.
Hogue said, “We learned low-light techniques which help to keep an officer safe. During the events, we found out what equipment works and what does not. Planning for each event taught us how to approach events in our job from a tactical mindset, which helps to keep citizens and other officers safer.”
The Shoot-House event was a hostage situation where an unknown member of hostage takers were holding an unknown number of hostages in a room. There was a robot from Recon Robotics that was used in this event.
At the Officer Rescue event, officers on a four-member team got out of a police car, patrol rifle shooters shot at targets from behind cover at unknown distances, rifle shooters took cover and shot left or right-handed, and once the targets were successfully engaged, everyone cleared their weapons for safety inspection.
At the Tower event, the team had a shield, a ram, and one patrol rifle with sling that carried them throughout a strenuous course filled with targets and shooters.
At the Steel event, each competitor ran to the firing line, engaged six targets on a plate rack as quickly as possible, reset the targets, and then returned to the starting line and tag out to another member.
Some of the events were timed events. All of the events had safety personnel on hand and the competitors had strict safety guidelines to follow.
New Albany Cobra Unit members learned skills at this conference that will assist them with their day-to-day tasks and on occasions when they have to go out on a call.
“I do not believe you can train too much. Criminals are always finding new ways to try and outsmart us. Their tactics change and ours has to evolve to stay ahead. When we train, we train for the worst case scenario and pray for the best,” said Hogue. “When the nine members of the Cobra Unit get the initial call out, their tactical mindset begins. Actions happen without thinking because of their training. We are lucky to have a department and city which supports us.”
New Albany Walmart Distribution Center donated waters and Gatorades and Tim Burress donated protein powder to the members for the event.
“A man once told me that a SWAT team is like a snake bite kit. You do not ever want to have to use it. Sometimes you don’t even think you need it and wonder why you have it. Then you remember that when your snake bit, it’s the only thing that will fix it immediately,” said Hogue.