SWAT


As you can see the current team consist of a few more officers than the original. Today’s Special Weapons And Tactics teams are trained to be involved in a larger variety of incidents over longer periods of time. Negotiators and medics now train right alongside with operational members.

In 1975 under the command of Chief Herbert Bond and Public Safety Director Lynn Taylor the Waycross Police Department was offered and accepted a tremendous challenge and honor. Five men from the Waycross Police Department would be trained alongside only a handful of much larger agencies to form a highly specialized Special Weapons and Tactics team “SWAT”. The group of talented officers were invited by the FBI to travel to Quantico, Virginia at no cost to the city to attend the rigorous five day training course taught by FBI instructors who specialized in this field.

The Officers were Sgt. James E. Blackburn, team leader and Patrolman L.M. Stalvey, H.M. Gibbs, Gene L. Cox, Greg R. Pierce. These five officers were the talented men who began a long and successful Waycross team which still last until today. Team leader Sgt. James E. Blackburn would not only start the team but would remain as Team Commander as he rose through the ranks of the Police department to eventually become Chief of Police. His influence is what made the team what it is to this day.

There have been only three other SWAT team commanders for the Waycross Police Department and those individuals are Chief Tony Tanner, Major Chris Tatum and current Team Commander Captain Tommy Cox. All three of these individuals served on the team when Chief Blackburn was the Commander or advisor and followed his example for the team which were highly successful. The SWAT team has evolved, particularly as it relates to a post 9-11 world. In 2007, SWAT became dual function by having the ability to operate in hazardous material environment.

SWAT team members received certification as hazardous material technicians which allows for their response to criminal acts that involve the use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive (CBRNE) agents. As SWAT’s role has changed, so have their numbers. SWAT has evolved from five officers to twelve with an additional four that serve as negotitors.