The Erie Police SWAT Team was formed in June of 1993. Previously there had been various versions of tactical and specialized units that conducted high-risk operations, but with the formation of the SWAT Team, members received better equipment and training. The original Commander was Charles Bowers and he remained in that position until being appointed as Chief of Police in 2002. The current Commander is Lt. Les Fetterman who was appointed as Team Commander to replace Bowers.
The full compliment of the Team is 25 officers. The Team is a part-time team, meaning that officers have full time positions within the Department and operate in a SWAT capacity when called for high-risk incidents. The Team trains 16-hours a month and the SWAT Team Snipers train an additional 8-hours per month. The Team organization consists of 1 Commander, 4 Team Leaders one of which is a Sniper Team Leader, a 4-man Sniper Team, a 4-man chemical munitions element team and the rest of the Team being comprised of operators. All Team Members are cross-trained in entry tactics. In addition to Erie Police Officers the Team is staffed with Team Medics from Emergycare, a local ambulance service.
The Team meets and maintains standards set by the National Tactical Officers Association. The Team is also a member of the Pennsylvania Tactical Officers Association with Lt. Fetterman being the Northwest Director of that organization. The Team’s responsibilities include being activated for high-risk search warrants, high-risk arrest warrants, dignitary protection, barricade and hostage situations and any incident that may require their use to more safely resolve the situation. Since being formed in 1993 the Team has been activated for over 350 operations.
The SWAT Team incorporates outside training and attends tactical seminars and conferences on a yearly basis in order to stay on top of the latest tactics and equipment available. The Team is well equipped and maintains two transport vans, a personal equipment van and an armor personnel carrier (military peacekeeper). The Team's other equipment includes , but is not limited to level 3 body armor with a level 4 shock plate, ballistic helmets, night vision, pole cameras, bang poles, M-4 and MP-5 rifles.
The Team Leaders are Lt. Spizarny with his full time position being a supervisor in C.I.D., Sgt. Jim Pietras a supervisor in the patrol division, Sgt. Jon Nolan the supervisor of the Neighborhood Action Team which consists of 6 SWAT Team members and the Sniper Team Leader is Cpl. Bill Marucci also a member of the N.A.T. and a former Marine Corps Sniper Instructor. Several former members still hold positions within the Department and still use the training and skills that were enhanced on the SWAT Team.
Team Selection is highly competitive process and consists of a background check, a physical test, a written test, a training evaluation and a shooting course. After the candidates are evaluated they are ranked accordingly and placed on the Team depending on what vacancies there are.
In summation, the purpose of the SWAT Team is to provide a systematic approach to saving lives and to provide a highly trained and skilled team as resource for the conduct of police special operations and to assist the various divisions within the Department to safely conclude these incidents.
For more information regarding the SWAT TEAM contact,
Lt. Jon Nolan, 814-870-1553, firstname.lastname@example.org