When city and county law enforcement officers plan a S.W.A.T. operation, their goal is to carry out the operation so smoothly and stealthily that no one realizes it is happening until it is already over.
Time and secrecy are key factors in risky S.W.A.T. missions, and Newton and Harvey County often work together in these situations. Cooperation between the agencies will now be even easier thanks to a new facility jointly rented by the city and the county. Units can be stored — and dispatched — from a centralized location.
"It allows us to house that emergency equipment under one roof," said Newton Police Chief Jim Daily. "... If we have some sort of a joint operation or need, we have a place where we can all go."
Newton and Harvey County recently entered into a lease agreement with WWCP Investments LLC, splitting the cost of leasing a building to store law enforcement and emergency response vehicles and equipment. The 4,252 square-foot building is at 311 S. Meridian, Suite B, in Newton, and the city and county each will pay $528.42 a month.
Officials recommended leasing the building due to concerns exposure to the sun and weather could deteriorate vehicles or equipment previously stored outside.
"This will prolong the life of those units immensely," said Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton.
There also were concerns about the security of vehicles being stored outside; fuel could be stolen from the units, or the units could be broken into. Daily said the local Emergency Response Team's sensitive equipment is now better protected and more easily monitored.
WWCP Investments LLC offered to lengthen one bay to accommodate a mobile command unit, which Daily said was a significant help. Previously, law enforcement had had trouble finding a place to store the extra-long trailer, and now it has a permanent, secure home.
The city and county moved their vehicles and equipment into the facility in February, and officials said so far, having a central storage location has been a great asset. Now, if law enforcement agencies are called out for a S.W.A.T. operation, they can meet in the facility's briefing room and dispatch from the same place.
"It is so much more efficient," Walton said.