Gainesville Police chief suspends SWAT team after multiple members resign

A member of the Alachua County Sheriff's SWAT Team during training in 2017. File/WGFL

Gainesville Police has deactivated its SWAT team for a limited time after multiple officers resigned from the team, according to letters obtained exclusively by CBS4 Gainesville.

In a letter dated Nov. 19, Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones wrote to Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell asking the sheriff to handle "all call-outs and search warrant service for Gainesville from Monday, November 19, 2018 at midnight forward until Monday, January 7, 2019. At the time I will reassess the situation."

Acting Chief Inspector Jorge Campos, GPD spokesman, said the SWAT team commander resigned, as did his two team leaders. All three remain with the department. Campos said more members may have also resigned but he couldn't immediately confirm that.

In a letter to the GPD staff dated Nov. 20, Jones wrote that "a few SWAT members tendered their resignation from the team for a variety of personal reasons." Unfortunately, Jones wrote, some of the resignations were from tenured members and that he was asking the sheriff for assistance until he can determine who will make up the future leadership and readiness of the team.

Though Jones described the resignations as having to do with a variety of personal reasons, one of the SWAT team members who resigned told CBS4 Gainesville's Gabby Arzola that it had to do with the chief's handling of a recent club shooting. The local Fraternal Order of Police recently wrote a scathing letter to the chief and city manager saying it had lost confidence in the chief by bowing to political pressure and letting a Boozie concert go on despite concerns.

The SWAT team member told Gabby Arzola that the resignation concerned "No confidence that outside political pressure would not drastically influence the City of Gainesville or GPD administration's support of the SWAT team and their actions." The member used the shooting as one example.

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