Missoula authorities weigh in on SWAT team procedures


MISSOULA, Mont. - In light of the recent protests and tear gas in Ferguson, Missouri, NBC Montana asked Missoula law enforcement officials whether they are reconsidering SWAT team procedures . The Missoula County Sheriff's Office and the Missoula Police Department each have a swat team.

Public Information Officer for the Missoula Police Department Travis Welsh says they are constantly reviewing procedures.

"As a department we are always assessing our policies and procedures and are always looking for ways to improve our response in any scenario," said Welsh.

Missoula County Sheriff Carl Ibsen says there are a variety of reasons a SWAT team could be called to a scene.

"They come when it's an especially hazardous or likely to be especially hazardous situation. They come with a real highly-tuned unique set of skilled,"said Ibsen.

The police department's SWAT team leader, Rick Stevenson, explained the different parts of the unit. It's composed of a SWAT team, a group of negotiators, and an explosive ordinance disposal team.

"Obviously every situation is case-by-case as far as do we call them out or don't we," said Ibsen.

We found an example from 2000, when the motorcycle club Hell's Angels came to Missoula. A crowd of locals got rowdy and that's when SWAT teams showed up.

Missoula County doesn't have to deploy it's SWAT team in serious situations very often. A standoff last September was the first time in four or five years.