County deputies and city police completed four days of SWAT training Saturday under the direction an instructor who had experience both as a law enforcement officer and in the fighting which took place 2012 in Benghazi, Libya.
Dave “Boon” Benton of Florida stopped Saturday morning at Godfather Pawn in Princeton to visit with the public and autograph copies of “13 Hours: The Inside Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi” by Mitchell Zuckoff before going to PikeView Middle School. During the previous three days, Benton had been training deputies and police in SWAT team techniques.
“We are getting the SWAT team back together,” Sheriff Tommy Bailey said Saturday before Benton arrived. “What we’re going to do is we’re going to combine Mercer County Sheriff’s Department with Princeton Police Department’s SWAT team. With everything that’s going on in the nation, with the active shooters, we’ve got to be prepared. I’d rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.”
Benton said that he has been a certified instructor since 1994. He was in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012 when terrorists attacked the U.S. State Department Special Mission Compound and a CIA station called the Annex.
“I was in the United States Marine Corps and after that I was a law enforcement officer myself, but I was not in the military when I was over there (Benghazi). I was with a government intelligence agency.”
Benton declined to describe his experiences in Benghazi, but he spoke about the ongoing SWAT training. The Princeton Police Department has had a team for about three years and the sheriff’s department is forming a new team. A total of 15 deputies and officers were receiving 10 or more hours of intensive training a day for four days.
“Primarily it’s firearms, justifiable use of deadly force, tactical entry procedures, breaching procedures, emergency assault procedures, active shooter procedures, officer down rescue procedures,” Benton said. And his local students had been doing well. “They’re all young, enthusiastic, and motivated to be there.’”
Many rural police departments now have SWAT teams, he stated. In the United States, most police departments are small.
“Not every police department is an NYPD (New York City Police Department) or Chicago PD,” Benton added.
SWAT training concluded Saturday at PikeView Middle School. Besides learning to deal with active shooter situations in schools and other public locations, the team was also trained to handle situations such as executing high-risk arrest warrants, high-risk search searches, hostage situations, and barricaded persons.
“God forbid anything ever does happen, but if it does and you need both teams together, this is the way to get them familiar with working together; so it’s nothing but beneficial for both teams,” Chief T.A. Gray of the Princeton Police Department said. “And having a person such as Boon teaching this, you couldn’t ask for a better instructor. The guys on my department have nothing but positive things to say. They say it’s some of the best training they’ve ever attended and are nothing but thankful and appreciative to have an instructor such as this to teach them.”
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