Using the classic missionary tool of bearing gifts, albeit unorthodox ones, a team of seven evangelical Christian police officers from the United States recently landed in the country to spread the gospel according to SWAT.
Their gifts – 10 bulletproof jackets, two radios, one trauma kit, a vehicle-extraction tool and SWAT tactics classes – were given to their law enforcement counterparts last week in San José and Murciélago, Guanacaste province, in return for listening to the “word.”
The group of certified SWAT instructors from Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Phoenix, Arizona, all members of “Teaching Authorities Christian Truths in Central America” (TACTICA), delivered a half-hour prayer each morning before training and an hour-and-a-half session with sermons after training. Attendance was obligatory for those who attended the training.
“In addition to exhibiting their police knowledge, their mission is to transmit the spiritual and moral values contained in the Bible,” a press release states.
The Costa Rican version of SWAT is known as the Special Support Unit (UEA). Geraldo Camacho, their chief, said the tactical training was beneficial.
“We learned new tactics to be used in vehicle assaults, extracting prisoners from moving cars, close-quarter battles securing buildings and the use of flash-bang grenades,” said the chief, who also served as TACTICA’s translator.
He referred inquiries on the religious component of the training to TACTICA leader Ryan Rought. But the retired police officer from Kalamazoo declined to be interviewed.
A Public Security Ministry spokeswoman said Rought didn’t want to “glorify himself.”
An evangelical Web site chronicling TACTICA’s efforts stated the group initially had some difficulty pulling off the training here, which was initially scheduled for January 2006.
“Sixteen days before our departure to Costa Rica, where we had confirmed plans to train…our entrance was denied,” states an account by Rought. “A very last-minute decision by the ‘Director of Police Affairs’ was made, which in essence closed all doors for our January trip.”
With the Costa Rica trip temporarily nixed, Rought’s group then conducted a similar training operation in Managua, Nicaragua, during which they donated 111 bulletproof jackets to police there.
The Christian cops then spent “many nights on our knees in prayer, crying out to God, ‘Lord, WHERE are you directing our family? How are you going to make this outreach take place?’” states the Web site. “We poured our hearts out to God, asking for his perfect will to be accomplished in regards to this police ministry… GOD HAS PROVIDED A WAY!”