WILLISTON, N.D. — A special operations and response team formed in the heart of North Dakota’s oil patch has begun training.

The Williams County Sheriff’s Office formed the team over the summer to respond to dangerous situations, offer help during natural disasters and act as extra security if needed.

There have been more than a dozen incidents in the region in the past 1 ½ years in which a specialized response was needed, and the nearest SWAT teams are hours away in Minot and Dickinson.

The joint effort includes 28 law officers and paramedics with the sheriff’s office, Williston Police Department and Williston Fire Department. The team began training last week, responding to mock scenarios in a classroom setting and at a local training facility, the Williston Herald reported (http://bit.ly/2doPOOx ). An instructor with the National Tactical Officers Association was on hand.

“Ultimately, we want to save lives,” said Sheriff’s Lt. Detective Steven Armstrong, the team’s commander.

Initial training and most of the team’s equipment are being funded by a public safety tax instituted last year. A $425,000 armored vehicle due to arrive in February is being funded through a local sales tax. An estimated $50,000 in yearly training and equipment costs will come out of the county’s budget.

Information from: Williston Herald, http://www.willistonherald.com

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