It's the stuff of television drama, real and fictional, and it's right here in Connecticut: the "SWAT Connecticut Challenge," drawing law enforcement professionals of every stripe from points near and far.
"Once you're here, they keep coming back every year," said event director Lt. Jeremy Clark, who has watched the SWAT Connecticut Challenge become one of the largest events of its kind since inception in 2005. "Small state, small event. Now it's gotten to the point that, because of the purpose of what we do, still a small state, huge event."
"Huge" refers to both the number of participating agencies in addition to SWAT teams – local police, state troopers, border patrol, and military, for example – to the distances some travel to compete.
"Any agency. You can be local, county, state, or otherwise," noted Indiana State Trooper Christopher McCreery, himself an example and a first-time competitor.
"This is a huge confidence booster," said Scott Meyer, of Indiana, also making his first appearance.
The unanimous sentiment is that the event is as much a training opportunity as a proving ground for bragging rights. The director likened its effectiveness to NFL players practicing for game day.
"They train all week to get to that point. That's what we're doing, except instead of a game in front of 80,000 people, it's a call out where lives at risk," said Clark.
The three-day event, which concludes Thursday, entails obstacle courses and sharp shooting in pressure-cooked situations, but also includes seminars.
"I did a TAC-MED class the last two days," said Meyer. "That was really good training."
With vendors displaying law enforcement technology under a labyrinth of tents, the event also is part trade show.
"We have 130 companies here, and we can walk through the tents, talk to all these companies and figure out what we need," Clark explained. "And they're able to talk to us and see what we need."
"The technology they had, the new objects, it's amazing," added Meyer.
Clark grants that it's a chance to show off and communicate with the public.
"We have no secrets. We want the public to see that we are here training hard for them," he said.
The event also seves to forge relationships and share ideas, something Clark suggests ultimately saves lives.
"If our paths cross or we're dealing with situations across borders, state lines or town lines, now we have that relationship where we worked together before," he said.
The SWAT Connecticut Challenge is free and open to the public. The final day's events, Thursday, will be at 106 Nod Road in Simsbury.