Tuesday, November 13, 2001

Spiderman stint keeps cops in shape

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT - The Newport Police SWAT (special weapons and tactics) squad rappelled from the L&N Bridge Monday morning and took turns being attacked by a K-9 dog as part of their training to remain sharp in these troubled times.

        “It's all about preparedness,” said Newport Police Capt. Cyril (Sy) Sykes, the SWAT commander. “We don't know what we'll be called upon to do, so we have to be ready for anything.”

        About a dozen officers from the Newport, Campbell County, Highland Heights and Cold Spring departments who comprise the SWAT team took turns rappelling from the bridge onto Riverboat Row about 35 feet below.

        The second phase of the exercise was a bit more risky, rappelling 60 feet from the bridge to the bank of the Ohio River, avoiding tree branches along the way.

        When an officer, such as Newport Patrolman Greg Simmons, became momentarily entangled in a branch, there was plenty of encouragement from Capt. Sykes and others as he freed himself and finished his descent.

        “Some of the guys are a little rusty because they haven't rappelled for a while,” Capt. Sykes said. “That's why we need this kind of training. Everyone had two turns coming down the ropes.”

        In addition to putting on a heavily padded arm protector and allowing a police dog to attack, the SWAT officers conducted trials in entering a building, and went through handgun target practice at the Newport city range.

        “We hold an eight-hour training session once a month,” Capt. Sykes said. “All the men on the SWAT team do this because they want to, because they're committed to the job.”

        Accompanying the SWAT team was Newport's SWAT truck, converted from an armored bank delivery vehicle and weighing 26,000 pounds. The truck has gun firing ports and can carry a variety of lethal and non-lethal weaponry as well as a full SWAT team.


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