St. Paul Police SWAT team to train at St. Thomas Jan. 8 and 9, 2008

St. Paul Police SWAT team to train at St. Thomas Jan. 8 and 9

If you see something unusual going on at the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts between 6 and 10 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, Jan. 8 and 9, 2008, you won’t need to call the University of St. Thomas Department of Public Safety.

They already know about it, and they will be there.

What’s going to be unusual is that for the first time in St. Thomas history, the St. Paul Police Department’s SWAT team will conduct a training exercise on the university’s campus.

As part of the training, the John R. Roach building on Summit Avenue will be evacuated and a thorough, methodical search will take place.

Each night, about 50 to 60 SWAT (special weapons and tactics) officers from the St. Paul Police Department will participate in the exercise. Another 10 to 15 members of the university’s Department of Public Safety also will be involved.

Those passing by the large classroom and office building will see the officers either outside or going in and out of the building. The exercise will not disrupt nearby parking or the flow of traffic on Summit. You could see some flashing lights on squad cars and other emergency vehicles in the vicinity of the building.

The area generally surrounding John R. Roach will be marked off with tape so no one accidentally enters the building while the training is underway. Also, the basement of Aquinas Hall likely will be closed.

The police likely will set up a mobile command center somewhere near the building.

The St. Paul Police Department holds regular training exercises. According to Daniel Meuwissen, director of the university’s Department of Public Safety, the SWAT team was invited to train on the St. Thomas campus for several reasons.

“It will help the police become even better acquainted with our campus, and that in turn would help them in case they need to respond to a St. Thomas emergency,” he said. “This kind of training is valuable not only for the city police, but for our campus Department of Public Safety. We already have an excellent relationship with the St. Paul Police, and joint training like this only enhances that.”

In connection with the training project, the university will use its new Emergency Notification System to send a test e-mail message about the SWAT exercise to all St. Thomas e-mail accounts on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2008.

The university also will send a text cell-phone message that day to all students, staff and faculty who have registered their cell-phone numbers with the university’s new Emergency Notification System by Jan. 5, 2008. Details about registering cell-phone numbers can be found in this Dec. 19 Bulletin Today story.

Questions about the training exercise, either beforehand or while in progress, can be directed to Mike Barrett, associate director of Public Safety and manager of investigations. He can be reached at (651) 962-5100 or