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Okaloosa County SWAT competition
SWAT teams from across Northwest Florida wrapped up a two-day competition in Okaloosa County.
It was a chance to sharpen their skills and honor a deputy killed in the line of duty.
Laura Hussey "That shot means everything just went south. Here's the scenario, domestic terrorists have taken over a bank, hostages inside. This SWAT team has to go in and try to get them out alive."
They're called in for the most dangerous operations, with only one chance to get it right.
Most local agencies don't have a full-time SWAT team.
In Okaloosa County, they train once every three weeks, for twelve hours.
Travis Topolski/OCSO "We use the fake rounds so nobody gets hurt, we go in and we execute like it's real life. We put our hands on people, we detain people. We try to make it as real as possible"
In this exercise, they wear gas masks as they go in, limiting their vision.
Laura "Closed doors and dark rooms, another one of the challenges. You can't shoot these guys here. But this guy here is waiting for you"
On the obstacle course, they strive to be stronger and faster.
Some teams have trained specifically for this competition
Joey Forgione/Event Organizer "They're coming here for a good cause, but they're also coming here together as one, and they're all winners"
Joey Forgione's brother Tony was Okaloosa's first fallen deputy, killed during a SWAT raid in 2008.
He says for the officers here, honor and integrity are just part of the bond.
Joey "It is that, but it's also will you sacrifice. Your family time, your sweat, your blood for each other, would you sacrifice yourself"
Proceeds from the SWAT competition go to an organization called "COPS" or Concerns of Police Survivors.
Travis Topolski "It's comforting to them to know that we still care, even two years after the fact, three years, four years, it's a big deal"