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NTOA program combats disparities in SWAT leadership, readiness

Tactical missions handled by SWAT are some of the most difficult and challenging facing law enforcement. In an effort to combat the broad disparities in SWAT leadership and readiness across the nation, and to provide equal access to the best practices in tactical operations, the NTOA developed the NTOA Academy Command College. (Mike Wood, PoliceOne.com)


Mike Wood


Legal/Use-of-Force Seminar

As a bureau chief over our SWAT, K-9 and EOD units, the course refreshed my knowledge of current practices and case law giving me a better operational understanding of the decisions that need to be made from a command perspective.

Deputy Chief Joseph Rodriguez

Maricopa County SO

Legal/Use-of-Force Seminar

Glad I got to attend. Very good course. The fact it was lined up with the Shot Show was also a good bonus.

Tony Harrison

Pennington County SO

Legal/Use-of-Force Seminar

I just attended the Legal/Use of Force seminar in Las Vegas. It was outstanding!! Extremely informative.

Leonard Azrikam


Basic SWAT

Just wanted to say thank you to our instructor, Jason Behun, for the Basic SWAT training. It came in very handy recently. Last Saturday we had a barricade situation with a man who had a grenade. The standoff lasted about 11 hours before we were able to take the subject into custody. We implemented a lot of the ideas taught in the Basic SWAT course like cutting the power and disabling his cell phone. Negotiations failed as well as OC and CS gasses. We were able to make entry using the robot and finally take him into custody. Being a new guy on the team, the NTOA training helped immensely and the team functioned very well together.

CLICK HERE to read an article on the incident.

Officer Tyler Fliam

Scottsbluff (NE) PD

SWAT Team Leader Development

The NTOA’s SWAT Team Leader Development course was some of the best training and direction I have received in my 16-year career. The tactical competency of both instructors, Matt Hardesty and Pat Hilliker, rang true when instructing aspects of SWAT operations. As an operator for 13 years, I can really appreciate their points of view and will take a lot of great ideas and tactics back to our team.  Listening to their experiences was humbling and rejuvenating. I aspire to be the warrior or at least one of the nine fighters that make the battle. As I get older, my mind is still sharp and my drive increasing, but sometimes my body doesn’t want to cooperate. I will share with the young blood on our team and in turn we will all benefit. Thank you for keeping us sharp.  We will not let you down.

Sgt. Brian Luthart

Huntersville (NC) PD

SWAT Team Leader Development

This course was the best training I have attended in a very long time! I have never attended a training in which I felt completely challenged to re-evaluate my position in my career or how my department/team operates. The personal touch of Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea’s presentation hardened my dedication to doing my job the right way and to motivating those around me to be held to the same high standard.

Lt. Joel Footen

Washington County (MD) SO

NTOA training in action with the Brewer (ME) Police Department and two of our certified trainers, Don Alwes and Fred Farris.

CLICK HERE to read article “Becoming Prepared”

Brewer (ME) Police Department

I attended the SWAT Team Leader Development course in Chesterfield, Va. The overall presentation was excellent! The instructor, Fred Meyer, was easy going and delivered the information in an easy to understand manner. Especially important were the blocks devoted to liability training and proper documentation. Also the discussion of tactics was important. The mission debriefs along with sidebar discussions among the different teams were invaluable. Lt. Stephen McQuail

Richmond (VA) PD

SWAT Team Leader Development

Great course and great instructors! The experience and intensity of both instructors brought realism to the training and provided a great foundation to teach from. I look forward to continue training with the NTOA and their instructors!

Sgt. Richard Hiles

Washington County (NE) SO

SWAT Team Leader Development

This course far exceeded my expectations. I was excited to attend an NTOA course given the reputation of the NTOA, but this was awesome! No BS when I say this was an outstanding course. I am excited to apply the principles I learned to my team.

Officer Greg Benson

Kearney (NE) PD

SWAT Team Leader Development

This was the best 40-hour class I have attended in my 16-year career in law enforcement! I would recommend it to anyone and am going to try to send my whole team through it.

Sgt. Adam Frerichs

Cheyenne County (NE) SO

SWAT Team Leader Development

Thanks to NTOA for offering this level of training. The training was very emotional and deep. The instructors (A.J. DeAndrea and Dan Murphy) were true professionals and they have shared true stories with the class which needed to be shared. Some of us have taken this job for granted because we have not been through what those guys been through. For these reasons, I applaud NTOA for allowing the true heroes to shared real SWAT stories with us.

Sgt. Jean Casseus

Albany-Dougherty (GA) SWAT Team

The NTOA’s Team Leader Concepts class, taught by Sgt. Luke Sherman, was the best I have ever attended at GTOA. I told my captain, if this is the caliber of training that NTOA offers, then we are doing our agency, team and community a disservice for not sending at least a few people each year to NTOA classes.

Sgt. Sherman’s preparation and knowledge was evident. His delivery was professional and still humble and approachable. He explained the concepts in a way that only a person who has a deep understanding of their topic can do. His energy was constant. Despite the limited amount of feedback and interaction, he remained motivated. Sgt. Sherman is impressive and a credit to his agency and community, and an asset to our country.

Cpl. L. Eric Phillips

Houston County SO Response Team

I recently took your Police Response to Active Shooter Instructor Certification course in Deptford, NJ. Your two instructors, Don Alwes and Vinnie Lariccia, were tremendous! I can’t tell you the last time I have had two instructors that were as good as they were and worked together so well. They were extremely knowledgeable and their willingness to teach were second to none. This is the first NTOA class I have taken and I am looking forward to more! Officer Bill Lacey

Temple University PD

Basic SWAT

NTOA’s Basic SWAT course is the best training I have attended in my law enforcement career. This course taught excellent material for use in both SWAT and patrol. Since I am mostly patrol, it was great to see that the same techniques can be applied. I learned that the technique of slow, deliberate planning and movement gets to the same objective and is hopefully safer.

Keith Girting Jr.

Beaver County (PA) DA - ESU

Supervising Patrol Critical Incidents

I recently attended NTOA’s two-day Supervising Patrol Critical Incidents class instructed by Sgt. Fred Farris. The class was very beneficial and in all honesty one of the best training I have been to. I have let others know that when this class and instructor come around again next year, they need to go!

Trooper Bethany Robinson

Maine State Police

SWAT Team Leader Development

The real life experience in conjunction with the classroom material had a major impact on the amount of material I was able to take away from this course. It was a truly humbling experience and was crucial to my growth as a leader.

The experiences shared by instructor A.J. DeAndrea were eye-opening. He is a true leader of men who I would gladly follow into the abyss. It was an honor to have him as an instructor!

Sgt. Octavio "Mike" Arango

Chatham-Savannah Counternarcotics Team

I attended the SWAT Commander I course in Henderson, Nevada in August. I want to thank Bart Branyon for his excellent instruction. The knowledge and insight he brought to the class made it outstanding! I feel very fortunate that I had to opportunity to attend under his instruction! Lt. Jeff Hewes

Las Vegas Metro PD

I just completed the SWAT Team Leader Course at the NTOA’s 2015 tactical conference in Salt Lake City. I want to thank the instructors, A.J. DeAndrea and Dan Murphy, for an outstanding class. This was truly one of the most informative classes I have attended in my 20 years on the job.

It is clear that both instructors put passion and commitment into this class and I greatly appreciate that. This class will certainly save lives in the law enforcement community.

Sgt. Patrick Baker

Grand Rapids (MI) PD, Special Response Team

I recently took the Advanced SWAT class. One of the most useful teaching techniques used by instructor Vinny Lariccia was setting up scenarios that increased the chances of failure for our team so we could learn from it and make adjustments for the next run. The class exceeded my expectations. Great job on instruction! Officer Michael Unterkoefler

Augusta (ME) PD

Manual and Shotgun Breaching

The caliber of the instructors was excellent! They utilized real world experience and applied it to the instruction; both classroom and practical exercises. They did not have egos and weren’t afraid to admit that they had failed to accomplish some desired task – they fought through and succeeded.

Officer Brad Penton

Mobile (AL) PD

SWAT Team Leader Development

We had our first armed barricade over the weekend and my first major OP as team leader. I want to say, taking your SWAT Team Leader Development course helped me tremendously and I definitely used some of the things you taught us in the course. I also observed a lot of “problems” that happen when an incident of this size occurs. Overall, it went very well with the bad guys in custody and the good guys going home safe. I learned a lot for the future and will improve on some of the little things for next time. I would definitely recommend the course to new or current team leaders. Thanks for your class! (Click here to read article on this incident.)

Corporal Brian Opitz

Apex (NC) PD

The SWAT Commander II class in Green Bay, Wisconsin, forced me to think critically and stretched my thought process. The course was comprehensive. I appreciated the leadership presentation and the instructors (Kevan Dugan and Jeff Selleg) exceeded my expectations. Their level of professionalism and knowledge of subject matter was exceptional! Sgt. Todd Peters

Appleton (WI) PD

The SWAT Commander II class that I took in Green Bay, Wisconsin, forced me to consider the “big picture” when making command decisions. I will leave this class a better leader, which was my goal when I started. Deputy Jody Breider

Brown County (WI) SO

I want to commend Lt. Dave Pearson and Sgt. Mark Martinez for the outstanding Less-Lethal/FSDD/Chemical Agent Instructor class they brought to us in Portland recently. From the first day of class I knew we were going to be in for a great week. In my almost 14 years in law enforcement, I have had the opportunity to attend many different schools. Some have been less than what I had hoped for in terms of professionalism, instructor knowledge/experience and overall applicability to the job. I wasn’t sure what to expect with this class, but my hopes were high and these instructors did not disappoint.

The level of professionalism that they both displayed is what should be expected of any law enforcement instructor. I appreciate the fact that they were able to do their job as instructors while not making students feel inferior and recognizing that we are all veteran officers. We have all been to those classes where the instructor knows everything and the students are just students. To have instructors willing to listen to their students and their experiences is something that unfortunately we do not see very often. Soliciting input from students and actually caring about what they are saying is huge.

I learned a great deal about the subject matter, but I also learned a lot with regards to instructing. I’ve been trained by AZPOST as a general instructor and I have also been trained as an instructor in several specific disciplines. Despite having a bit of instructor training and experience under my belt, I’m always interested in learning from guys who are dedicated to our profession, especially as it relates to training other officers. The more I can learn, whether it be tactics or methods of instruction, the better I can be at preparing our new (and sometimes not so new) officers to do their job well and to keep themselves alive. These instructors helped me to be more effective in achieving this goal.

Again, I sincerely thank Lt. Pearson and Sgt. Martinez for putting on a top-notch class. The NTOA is fortunate to have them!

Det. Dan Metzler

Gilbert (AZ) PD

Please note that the NTOA is moving its headquarters to Colorado Springs, CO. from Feb 23 through March 7. There will likely be delays in responses to inquiries. Thank you for your patience.