Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

World Police and Fire Games: No, it's not Top Gun... it's just the Finnish Swat team

Finland Swat team yesterday at the World Police and Fire Games at Ballykinler

It's like something out of an action film.

High-pressure missions and physical endurance are normally led by Hollywood heroes like Bruce Willis.

But, in an unsuspecting village in Co Down yesterday some of the world's most highly trained officers gathered and they were certainly not acting.

As part of the World Police and Fire Games, Special Weapons And Tactics teams from around the world travelled to Ballykinler Army Barracks near Newcastle to compete.

Swat co-ordinator Andy Mawhinney said: "Any of the competitions which they are competing in would replicate what they encounter on a daily basis."

Against the backdrop of the idyllic and calm Mourne Mountains, 30 participants from Finland, Northern Ireland, USA and Argentina are taking part in the event.

Sounds of gunfire filled the air as athletes ran from point to point, conquering a number of obstacles along the way and then shooting targets.

Jesse Douvier (42) is the team leader for the St Cloud Swat team from Minnesota, USA.

He said: "It's physical, there is a lot of running. You have to be in very good shape to be able to hit the targets once you get there.

"It is realistic, there is a lot of breaching doors, climbing obstacles and engaging targets."

Team-mate Nik Smith (42) said: "In most of our work we don't usually have to run to scenes.

"It's pretty controlled and the people we are going to get don't know we are coming so we don't have to be quite as quick."

It is Jouni Koivunen (34) and Jari Malm (33) from the Oulu police department in Finland's first time in the competition.

During the competition there was a demonstration with a car and special devices to show how Swat teams use distraction in their missions.

The event is not open to the public due to the safety risk involved with the use of firearms.

It is one of the more unusual events being staged.

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