The Mentor Special Weapons and Tactics Team, or S.W.A.T., under the command of Lieutenant Dan Molnar, is comprised of a team of Mentor Police Officers who are specially trained to respond to high-risk situations. The Mentor S.W.A.T. Team originated in 1981 and continues to operate today with seventeen officers assigned to the unit. The team has expanded to include an inter-jurisdictional agreement with Kirtland Hills and Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Departments. This agreement allows a select number of officers from each department to join the Mentor S.W.A.T. Team.
The purpose of the Mentor S.W.A.T. Team is to respond to certain high-risk situations that may require the use of special weapons and tactics. These situations include, but are not limited to: barricaded persons, hostage/rescue, terrorist incidents, and serving high-risk arrest and search warrants.
The mission of the Mentor S.W.A.T. Team is to bring the incident to a safe, swift, and reasonable conclusion through tactical means.
In general, Mentor S.W.A.T. Officers must have the ability to follow orders under all types of conditions, combined with the flexibility to improvise under extreme stress. They must also be able to function in a team environment, maintain a high degree of physical fitness and firearms proficiency, have an above average evaluation, and a good disciplinary record.
Team members are chosen from interested Mentor, Kirtland Hills, and Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Officers who pass a clearly defined selection process. This process includes: review of a submitted application, pass a physical fitness test, supervisory recommendation, review board, and team vote of review board recommended applicants. The physical fitness test consists of a 3/4 mile obstacle course which includes push ups, a wall climb, pull ups, sit ups, low crawl, body drag, dips, and a run with a ram.
The equipment that a Mentor S.W.A.T. Officer wears weighs 60 lbs. The Entry Vest alone weighs 25 lbs. The Mentor S.W.A.T. Team has a variety of tactical equipment and firearms. These include the MP-5 submachine gun, AR-15 assault rifle, .308 sniper rifle, 12 gauge shotgun, distraction devices, door rams, ropes, helmets, goggles, knee and elbow pads, knives, and mirrors, just to name a few.
All Mentor S.W.A.T. Officers are required to attend a very rigorous two-week basic S.W.A.T school. The Mentor S.W.A.T. Team trains once a month and each fall it conducts a four-day training session at Camp Perry. This training includes: physical fitness, shooting techniques, dynamic and deliberate entry, firearms qualification on multiple weapons, night movement, use of chemical agents, vehicle assaults, etc. In addition, officers attend various tactical training programs throughout the year. The Mentor S.W.A.T. Team snipers train on a monthly basis, apart from the regular S.W.A.T. Team sessions. Team members also complete an annual physical fitness test to insure proper conditioning.
In addition, Mentor S.W.A.T. participates in periodic joint training exercises with the Western Lake County S.W.A.T. Team, Lake County Sheriff’s Office S.W.A.T. Team, as well as with the Lake County Explosive Ordinance Disposal Team. The training between the above teams results in the sharing of ideas, experiences, and issues, and develops a more cohesive group that can share responsibilities if team relief or assistance is needed.