TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - If you heard some loud commotion and saw quite a bit of law enforcement surrounding La Placita Village in downtown Tuesday, April 4, have no fear.
The property owner is allowing the Pima Regional SWAT team to use the building for training purposes. The group has held several training sessions at La Placita over the past several months.
"We're here trying to better ourselves and be those subject matter experts to where, if the time comes and we are called upon to serve the public, we will do it to the best of anybody's ability," said Jake Shumate with the Marana Police Department.
The entire Tucson City Council voted to demolish the La Placita Village earlier this year and build a 246-unit apartment complex in its place.
An independent audit found the complex would generate $5.2 million in economic benefits during a proposed 8-year property tax abatement.
A team of about a dozen Pima Regional SWAT Team members participated in a breaching specialty training session Tuesday, April 4.
They studied a variety of forced entry scenarios at La Placita and learned how to use them both safely and efficiently.
La Placita, which is owned by HSL Properties, sits on the corner of Church and Broadway. It was built in the 1970s as part of an urban renewal project, which gave birth to the Tucson Convention Center.
Pima Regional SWAT Team supervisor Sgt. Derek Ogden said this collaboration allows the team of nearly 40 to be placed in what feels like a real-life scenario as opposed to a makeshift structure one would find on a training base.
"We use real life structures, residences, apartment buildings and commercial structures," said Ogden. "So valuable because we simply can't simulate those structures that we can run into on a call that could pop up at any point."
The Tucson Police Department's SWAT team is also being allowed to use the building for training purposes. Ogden said there are several historical buildings in La Placita that are off limits.
"We work every day to perfect our craft," said Ogden. "We want you to know that should we ever need to get to you, we can do it as quickly, as safely and as efficiently as possible to protect the public."