FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) – Five law enforcement agencies in southern Indiana have partnered up to create a regional Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team.

The Southeast Indiana Regional SWAT team is made up of already existing SWAT units from the Harrison, Floyd and Clark Counties Sheriff’s Departments, along with the Clarksville and Charlestown Police Departments.

Department leaders started discussing the idea of a regional team in October 2015.

“We saw that there were six SWAT teams in three counties, and there really wasn’t enough SWAT activity to maintain those teams to the proficiency that we needed," Floyd County Sheriff Flank Loop said.

The National Tactical Officers Association did a study and determined combining smaller units into one large team would be beneficial for the area. Five agencies officially partnered together in October 2016 with about 30 officers, 10 negotiators and three trauma doctors.

The team now trains twice a month. Leaders said training together is crucial so that all officers from different departments work cohesively when they’re called out.

"We are bringing everyone together so they all have the same tactics,” Loop said. “So we know the same language, we know the same tactics.”

On Tuesday, officers trained at the Fraternal Order of Police gun range in Floyd County. Groups rotated between different firearm and tactical exercises.

During past training sessions, officers practiced entering different rooms in a vacant apartment building in New Albany. Each time the team gathers at a different location, they will focus on different skills in order to be prepared for any scenario.

"They had a great resource in each community,” Loop said of the benefit to residents. “Now they've got a better resource. They've got the best officers from each agency. They've got the best equipment joined together. We can handle the long, drawn-out events.”

This is a part-time SWAT team, so each officer has other responsibilities in his individual department.

"The public is definitely better served,” Loop said. “The public budgets are definitely better served by doing a regional team."

Loop said there are many benefits of having one large regional team. It’s expensive for smaller departments to maintain equipment, training and staff. He added that teaming up is a better use of resources because there will be more officers and more equipment available to everyone.

“It was almost surreal to me when we all got together and everyone pulled up with their equipment,” Loop said. “We have enough equipment for a couple of teams, because we had a couple of teams!”

Each department participating is responsible for outfitting its own team members. The board of directors will decide if a group purchase ever needs to be made.

“Since we are a regional team, we are going to get first dibs on grants," Loop said. "Because that’s the way the Department of Justice and other people think it should be. Police departments should be working together. Fire departments should be working together. So we’re going to be getting first pick on grants.”

Since its formation, the regional team has responded to one SWAT situation in January 2017.

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