The condemned Aloha Motel on Samish Way provides the perfect place to practice knocking down doors.
The Bellingham Police Department SWAT team had a “rare” opportunity for some real-life room breaching training at the now city-owned Aloha Motel property, according to a press release.
On Tuesday Oct. 6, in the midst of the three-day training, the public was invited on-site for a demonstration by four SWAT members conducting different tactics.
The demonstration was initially slated to include explosives, however, due to a complaint, the use of explosive tactics for room breaching was ended on Monday, Bellingham Police Officer Josh McKissick said.
In place of explosives, McKissick and Bellingham Police Officer Dion Terry demonstrated different breaching tactics on doors using a shotgun and a battering ram.
Terry said he believes the public demonstration is a step for the Bellingham Police Department to invite the public in and be transparent.
“I think this is just another step in inviting them in, to show them what we do,” he said.
Even though training was cut short, University Police officer Eric Ellis said this opportunity was very fun.
Ellis is one of two University Police officers that are members of the Bellingham SWAT team. He said his favorite part of the training has been the opportunity to work as a team and to get more training in general.
When Western officers were allowed onto the Bellingham SWAT team in 2010, Ellis was the first to be selected.
Ellis said it is important to have this sort of training because if something were to happen on campus, they need to be trained to deal with it.
“The big thing now is active shooters at a school,” he said.
Ellis acknowledged that not all Western police officers are going to have SWAT-level training, but that the most important thing is that he can bring some of the training he gets with the Bellingham SWAT team back to Western.
“When Bellingham Police Department SWAT show up to a call [at Western], we have to be able to work together,” Ellis said.