YORKTOWN — Yorktown Town Marshal Shane Ginnan has said he intends to pull the police department's officers from the Delaware County SWAT team.
That's according to a letter sent Tuesday by Ginnan to the Delaware County Sheriff's Office, which WRTV has obtained.
In the letter, Ginnan said he had contacted Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter to request the ISP SWAT team respond to any calls for assistance in Yorktown in the future.
"This will take effect immediately," Ginnan wrote. "Please remove my officers from any on-call or call-out lists that may exist through dispatch."
A Wednesday Facebook post by the department says the decision came as a result of a shortage of officers.
"Due to a current officer shortage (a personnel issue and an injury) it was imperative that we not weaken our current responsiveness or burden our remaining force with additional duties and expenses so long as we could do so without opening our residents to undue risk," Ginnan wrote in the post.
Delaware County Sheriff Tony Skinner responded to Ginnan with a letter of his own, in which he argued the decision to withdraw would have a negative impact on public safety.
"The loss of your officers' participation on the Delaware County SWAT Team will have a detrimental effect on the efficiency of the team and your agency. Through your officers' involvement with the Delaware County SWAT Team they have (received) over 500 hours of high-quality training annually. ..." Skinner wrote.
According to the letter, the training includes advanced firearms training, weapons retention, force-on-force training, critical decision-making, room clearing, leadership training, raid planning, and de-escalation.
"Having your officers on our specialized team(s) not only makes your department stronger, but it makes your community safer. Thus, in the interest of the safety of your community I respectfully request you reconsider your decision," Skinner wrote.
Skinner went on to praise the ISP SWAT team but said he was concerned about their ability to respond in a timely manner.
He argued the team could take between 90 minutes to two hours to respond to Yorktown because if covers a "massive geographic area that includes all of central Indiana," whereas the Delaware County SWAT team could respond in under a half-hour.
"We must consider why police agencies often times require the assistance of SWAT. As you know, SWAT teams are routinely called out to handle barricaded armed suspects, violent armed attacks on other citizens, hostage situations, and active shooters in schools and businesses, to name a few. In each of these scenarios every second counts. Lives can be lost in the blink of an eye," he wrote.
"As the Sheriff of Delaware County, I will not allow the lives of our citizens to be jeopardized during this type of emergency. Using the example of a school or workplace active shooter, it is unacceptable to wait 60-90 minutes, or more, for the arrival of SWAT team when there is a well-trained team that can respond within 30 minutes. Should this nightmare scenario occur, lives will be lost."
In the Facebook post, Ginnan defended his decision to have the ISP SWAT team respond in place of Delaware County's.
"... Superintendent Carter assured me that we would have a 30 minute ISP SWAT response (if not sooner) due to several members of the ISP SWAT team living in and around Delaware County. The concerns raised by Sheriff Skinner regarding extended calls times are unwarranted and appear as much to be politicking. I made an informed decision that addressed crisis safety and everyday operational measures to provide for the care of both our officers and citizens," Ginnan wrote.
According to Skinner, there is no formal process for a department to withdraw from a SWAT team. Once the head of the department reaches that decision, it is final. In addition, he said, personnel on specialized teams can be removed without notice.
Skinner said in his letter that he hopes to resolve "any conflicts" between the two departments.
WRTV has made several attempts to reach Ginnan but has not yet heard back.