SAN ANTONIO - It's a humid and hot day in South San Antonio, and the Bexar County Sheriff's SWAT Team is just warming up. The men working in this unique job take a morning jog wearing a gas mask and begin doing calisthenics in a parking lot.
"We've got to train for the worst and hope for the best," Sergeant Raymond Ortega said. "We never know what we're going to encounter when we breach that door."
This SWAT team is made up of men with different ages and backgrounds. Despite their difference, they have to work together as a single unit.
"Knowing my guy's going to go left without him even telling me," Deputy Martin R. Perez said. "I know if he's getting to something, I'm going to be right there with him."
It's a job that is not for everyone, and much of the trust within this SWAT team comes from every deputy's dedication.
"Luckily, we all have a good support system with each other," Sgt. Ortega said.
The intensity during the morning practice session is off the charts. The sounds of flash bangs and yelling fills the vacant buildings this team uses to practice their tactics. It's obvious the team is close, and all of them say a strong support system at home allows them to do this unique job.
"If you want to do this line of work," Deputy Perez said, "it's a tremendous sacrifice that includes the training, the call outs, and making time at home."
"We are on call 24-7," Sgt. Ortega adds. "We can get called out at any given time whether it be at a family barbecue, on your day off, or you could be home cutting the grass."
"I know my mom has stepped up, my grandmother has stepped up and my in-laws have stepped up," Deputy Perez says with a smile. "They understand, but they want me to get the job done and come back home."
During the practice sessions, the team goes over everything that went right and wrong. The team tries to practice as many scenarios as they can in order to be ready for anything that can happen in a real situation.
"Just like in police work," Sgt. Oretga said, "every call is different. That's why we love the job. Every situation, every mission or operation is different. We train for everything."
Every single day this team goes out with a mission to keep the public and themselves safe.
"I know a lot of the times, we show up and they think SWAT is here to do this or that," Deputy Perez said. "that's not what we're here for. In the end, we're there to keep the peace and hopefully, including the suspect, all of our guys got home safe."
"We have a great tactical team," Sgt. Ortega said. "The public just needs to be assure If there was ever a critical incident in San Antonio or Bexar County, SWAT response is going to take care of business."