The Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team is an elite SWAT unit formed more than 30 years ago. The ongoing situation in the late ’70s of the last century, especially after the 1972 Munich attack has orchestrated the creation of tactical teams for combating terrorism around the world.
The first tactical team in Washington County was established in 1976. They have become known as the Tactical Negotiations Team (TNT). The unit has also become known as Washington County TNT, Oregon TNT and it is often referred to in public as Washington County SWAT and Oregon SWAT. The Tactical Negotiations Team upon its creation has become a highly trained tactical unit, which is activated to deal with extremely hazardous situations where conventional police tactics and equipment are inadequate or too dangerous for the situation and regular police forces.
Training and selection
The Tactical Negotiations Team is a multi-agency special weapon and tactics unit with members drawn from several law enforcement agencies throughout the Washington county. The TNT consists of officers and deputies from the Beaverton, and Hillsboro Police Departments, and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. Officers and Deputies assigned to the tactical negotiations team are doing regular jobs and do so as a secondary assignment, with their primary assignments ranging from Patrol to Investigations.
The mission of the Tactical Negotiations Team is to attempt resolution of dangerous incidents utilizing their specialized training and equipment with the least amount of force. Its primary focus is to ensure the safety of victims and bystanders in the vicinity of dangerous incidents. That’s a regular SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) unit. Incident types include:
- Hostage situations
- Armed suicidal subjects
- Clandestine drug lab responses
- Barricaded wanted subjects
- High-risk warrant service
Guns and Gear
During operations, the Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team makes use of a wide variety of specialized equipment. Some of this equipment includes chemical agents, less-lethal munitions (rubber bullets), various firearms, and an armored vehicle known as The Boar. The team also recently added specially trained tactical emergency services personnel to assist with emergency medical treatment during training and callouts in a tactical manner. Deputies and officers wishing to be assigned to the team must be in the excellent physical condition and perform well in their primary duty assignment, and after they surpass training and examination then they are assigned to the team.
Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team currently averages approximately 25 callouts per year. One of their most successful callouts occurred on November 14, 2002, when the TNT assisted the Vancouver Police Department and the FBI by taking two suspected bank robbers into custody.
On the afternoon of Thursday, November 14, 2002, Vancouver Police, and FBI agents were investigating a bank robbery that occurred in Vancouver on Wednesday, November 13, 2002. Their investigation led them to the Clermont Apartments located at 1801 NW 143 rd. Ave. When the officers learned that the alleged suspects had barricaded themselves inside their apartment they called the TNT for assistance in resolving the situation. Shortly after their arrival, members of the team were able to talk the two suspects into complying with their commands and coming out peacefully. Both suspects were taken into custody and held on unrelated charges.
Forest Grove incident
Another intensive callout took place on January 5, 2003, when Forest Grove Police officers were called to investigate a report of an armed man making suicidal threats. The responding officers found the man barricaded in the bedroom of his home. The subject brandished a handgun at them and threatened to shoot the officers if they did not leave. The officers also observed a shotgun and a rifle in the room. The officers retreated from the residence and called for assistance from the Washington County Tactical Negotiation Team (TNT).
Upon arrival at the scene, Washingon County TNT members immediately formed a security perimeter around the suspect’s home. The situation escalated when the suspect, who had been randomly firing shots from inside the house, began to target individual officers. With the suspect having fired more than 30 rounds at officers and surrounding residences, the decision was made to call The Boar armored vehicle in.
Unfortunately, at that time, it was not known if The Boar could sustain damage from high caliber rifle rounds. Team members placed ballistic shields over the vehicle’s windows for added protection. Sgt. Marshall and Corporal Grady Nelson then drove The Boar into the gunfire in an effort to distract the suspect and draw his fire away from the surrounding homes.
With The Boar advancing on his position, the suspect came out of his home aiming a handgun and rifle at the officers. He then ignored repeated commands to surrender his weapons and continued to challenge the officers to kill him. He then fired the rifle at the officers. Officer Hanlon returned fire but suffered a weapons malfunction. The suspect fired again, and Sgt. Kisor moved from his position of safety and fired one round at the suspect, killing him instantly.
The Washington County Tactical Negotiations Team plays a significant role in the domain of public security and they are really the example of the ‘Protect and to serve’ guideline.