Alamogordo commissioners vote to fund new SWAT team

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (KRQE) – In the wake of a scary hostage situation, a New Mexico police department has seen enough — they’re putting together a SWAT team.

A robbery at a KFC, a robbery at White Sands Bistro, and a hostage situation at McGinn’s Pistachio Farm were all contributing factors to the Alamogordo Police Department’s push to bring back the SWAT team.

“Considering the hostage situation that happened, and my dad works in law enforcement, I think a SWAT team is a good idea. ‘Cause knowing Alamogordo, it’s a very dangerous place,” said Matthew Mirabal, resident.

From 2003 to 2015 there was an active SWAT team in Alamogordo. But after a lack of funds and training, the police department decided to end the SWAT team, making the closest team in Las Cruces, 65 miles away.

“We have a real crisis here in the county for that fact. We have to call State Police’s SWAT team which comprises of members from Las Cruces as well. They’re at least an hour-and-a-half to two hours away until we can get them on scene,” said Sergeant Roger Schoolcraft, Alamogordo Police.

The issue before was that the SWAT team did not have a reliable source of funding. This time around, the city is giving the department $110,000 to start up a new team — and $60,000 a year to run it.

The vote by city commissioners was unanimous.

“I’m thrilled we’re going to do this again. I think it’s needed. We need to be able to take care of our citizens here in Alamogordo without waiting for other agencies to come in,” said Susan Payne, Alamogordo City Commissioner.

The team is set to be up and running within three months.

“We met as early as [Thursday] discussing what we’re going to do, the training we need to get people,” said Schoolcraft.

The last time the city had to call in the State Police SWAT team was on Father’s Day for the hostage situation at McGinn’s Pistachio Tree Ranch. A gunman firing off shots stormed the farm and held more than a dozen people hostage for hours before eventually surrendering.

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