Arab Guntersville SWAT team helps county-wide in the fight against drugs

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ala. -- Two law enforcement agencies in Marshall County revamped a joint SWAT team, and now the team is used across the county in the fight against drugs.

Drone video from the Arab Police Department shows two SUVs pull up to a home. Like clockwork, a swarm of uniformed and armed police officers jump out and advance in formation; a move clearly practiced and discussed.

Law enforcement officers say there's an increasing need in Marshall County for what the officers are doing. That SWAT team is made up of Arab and Guntersville police officers. The departments revamped the team, which goes out on several calls a month. It also assists the Marshall County Drug Task Force. The team is made up of patrol officers.

One of the team's duties is to go out on high-risk search warrants, which usually involve drugs. "We also use them sometimes on some of the child pornography warrants that we're having to execute, because you really never know what you're going into there, what the mindset of that individual is," Arab Police Chief Ed Ralston said.

Guntersville Police Chief Jim Peterson says if the team didn't exist the departments would have to wait a substantial amount of time, most likely an hour and a half or more, for one to come from another agency. In those high-risk situations, time is essential, so Peterson says having a team at their disposal is priceless.

Items seized from a recent SWAT call

Ralston says in putting more drug offenders in jail and pulling the substances off of the streets contributes to a decrease in crime. "There's a direct correlation between the use of drugs or the selling of drugs and theft, burglaries," he explained.

Even though the agencies are relatively small Peterson says the team puts a strong emphasis on the highest level of training possible. Some of the longtime SWAT members from Guntersville help in the training sessions and planning. The team practices frequently, and the new members went through rigorous SWAT training.

There's discussion about a county-wide team to increase manpower and widespread availability.