An increase in Hays County SWAT activity over the past four years prompted the agency to obtain grant funding for night vision goggles.
Lt. Joe Faulkner, commander of the Hays County SWAT team, said roughly 95 percent of SWAT’s operations take place in low-light or no light conditions.
Faulkner said the night vision units are necessary for carrying out those operations.
Faulkner said in 2017, the Hays County SWAT Team was awarded a $106,000 grant from Homeland Security for 12 night vision goggle units.
In 2018, Hays County SWAT applied for a grant through the same agency for the 14 additional units, which cost $123,000.
Faulkner said the average number of SWAT events per year varies, but he estimated 15 to 25 events per year.
Faulkner said in 2017 there was a reported 27 SWAT related calls and attributed the increase to a bigger focus from the Criminal Investigations Division and Repeat Offender Unit.
Although Faulkner said suspects on the street are upgrading their equipment and tactics, he said the upgrade of the SWAT team’s equipment has more to do with the lessons learned from other law enforcement agencies across the country.
Faulkner said suspects are more likely to use rifles versus handguns these days, but said suspects behavior has changed drastically over the last few decades.
The result is law enforcement officers to have to “adapt and overcome,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner said suspects today exhibit a “total disregard for humanity and the willingness to attack law enforcement officers.”
“This type of behavior was unheard of ten plus years ago, but now days, it seems you hear of a law enforcement officer being attacked everyday, somewhere in the country,” Faulkner said.
Faulkner said other areas of law enforcement, if needed, can use the SWAT equipment, no matter what it is.
However, he said the equipment was purchased to prepare for any and all events including active shooter events.
“SWAT has had to re-evaluate how they operate to minimize injury to themselves and innocent civilians,” Faulkner said.
At this time it is unknown if the Hays County SWAT team was awarded the grant from Homeland Security for $123,000 for the 14 additional night vision goggle units for the part-time Hays County SWAT officers.