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Hamilton County's 2 separate SWAT teams are joining forces

Hamilton County's 2 SWAT teams join forces
Posted at 1:20 PM, Jan 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-18 13:20:17-05

CINCINNATI -- Two separate Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams have handled emergency situations in Hamilton County for 22 years, but Sheriff Jim Neil announced Thursday they're combining into one.

The Hamilton County Police Association's SWAT team formed in the 1930s to allow local police departments to collaborate and share resources in high-risk incidents. Then, in 1995, the Sheriff's Office broke off to create its own Special Response Team for similar situations.

Starting Thursday, those Hamilton County Sheriff's deputies are merging back into the Hamilton County Police Association's SWAT team, formerly one of the largest tactical teams in the Midwest.

Watch Neil making the announcement at a news conference Thursday in the video player below.

"Now, the Sheriff's SWAT team is the Hamilton County Police Association SWAT team, they're going to have over 60 members when it's all said and done, and wow what a team!" Neil said.

The merger began in 2013 when six Hamilton County deputies rejoined the Police Association's SWAT team. Now an additional six or seven deputies will join those ranks. It's not just personnel, though. Equipment like the sheriff's office helicopter is coming, too.

"It gives us the ability with new equipment and additional personnel that if there is an instance where we have more than one situation going on, we have capability now of handling multiple situations at any given time," said Commander Dave Schaefer of the Hamilton County Police Association. 

For Capt. Tom Butler of the sheriff's office, the merger means reuniting with his law enforcement family.

"I was one of the deputies on -- in 1995 -- on the HCPA SWAT team that was taken off. This is like a homecoming coming back to these guys," Butler said.