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The Thomasville Police Department’s SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) Team is up to full strength after concluding a tryout for new members earlier this month. Chief Troy Rich has announced the addition of six offers to TPD’s SWAT Team, effective immediately.

“We are pleased to announce the selection of Officers Melvin Ray, Devin Tudor, Detective Adam Lawson, Sergeant Jason Baldwin and School Resource Officer Jamica Thomas as the newest members of our SWAT Team,” said Thomasville Police Chief Troy Rich.

The new members join the current team, consisting of SWAT Commander Scott Newberry, Assistant Commander/Sniper Sergeant Daniel Powers, Sergeant Chris Kitlas, Corporal/K-9 Handler Brandon Kent, Officers Michael Donaldson, Matt Hietala, John Meredith, and Casey King. Four reserve members, three operators and a sniper with extensive experience ensure a full SWAT Team of 18 members.

“In addition to the new SWAT operators, we have selected four new hostage negotiators to join our team. We are pleased to announce Lieutenant Kim Dyke, Lieutenant Heath Champion, Corporal Elisa Carter and School Resource Officer Olivia Jones as the newest team members named to this assignment,” said Chief Rich. The new members will attend hostage negotiation training in March before joining the TPD’s current certified negotiators, Detective Chris Baggett and SWAT Commander Scott Newberry. “The new negotiators have tremendous communication skills, temperament and endurance to become excellent negotiators,” said Chief Rich.

All of the members are eager to train, learn and provide the best service to the community if and when an incident arises for the team to be deployed. “I have the ultimate confidence in these officers, and I am excited for the team to progress,” said Chief Rich.

The SWAT Team and its new operators will train over the next few months, in order to gain valuable experience and cohesion, before hosting a SWAT school in the coming months.

The TPD anticipates another selection process before the year is over, seeking the addition of another three to four members. “We have many talented officers with a wide range of experience in the department,” said Chief Rich. “We have potential new members who are currently in the police training program that we anticipate joining the team, one with an extensive background in the military special operations.”

Chief Rich is confident in the current standing and future direction of the SWAT Team. “We know the team will grow, becoming even stronger,” said Chief Rich. “Our community is safe and in good hands.”