The increase of gangs in Central California, more stringent penalties for violent offenses and the booming population growth in Merced County brought about a rise in violent incidents within the concrete walls of the Merced County Sheriff’s Department Correctional Facilities.
Violent inmates were confronted by correctional officers who were ill-equipped and under-trained for dealing with these situations. Officers routinely sustained injuries, while the inmate medical expenses increased.
Use of S.W.A.T.
Corrections staff began researching ways to make their jobs safer and proposed the implementation of a well-equipped response team that would train to deal with these violent jail incidents. Sheriff’s Administrators decided to give the S.W.A.T. Team the authority to respond to situations.
In 1992, four Corrections staff tested and trained with the Merced County S.W.A.T. team. The members trained for six months with S.W.A.T., but found that S.W.A.T. tactics did not suit the custody environment. Using the experience and knowledge of the S.W.A.T. organization, the members left S.W.A.T. and developed a response team designed to work within the concrete and steel of a correctional facility.