When Captain Matt Hester joined the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office in December 2016, he had a vision to reinstate the special weapons and tactics team, or SWAT. Now, after a year of assembling the team, Dawson County has a functioning SWAT presence for the first time in nearly 10 years. “We’re just excited to have it. It’s a benefit to Dawson County,” said Sheriff Jeff Johnson. “It’s a benefit to our people and now we have the ability to rapidly respond and assemble a team in hopes of saving lives.” Johnson and Hester worked throughout 2017 to get the program up and running once more after previous teams had disbanded years ago. Both are unsure why the county no longer had a SWAT presence but agreed that having a local unit is critical for the growing county. But setting up a new team from the ground up wasn’t an easy process. Though the DCSO had some specialized equipment like shields and battering rams left over from previous teams, Hester still needed to find the best personnel for the job along with establishing the procedures and equipping each individual officer with new gear to protect them in dangerous situations.