SWAT ROUNDUP: The Thing about Hungary is...


They came as competitors in an annual international contest testing critical incident response capabilities and team readiness. They departed lifelong friends half a world away. Eleven Hungarian law enforcement officers visited the Cocoa Police Department this week to share a meal, stories and exchange gifts before returning home following the International SWAT Roundup held last week in Orange County. The Hungarian SWAT officers represent four branches of law enforcement from Budapest under the Counter Terrorism Centre of Hungary and Anti Organized Crime Unit. They are Bekes County, the Presidential Protective Detachment, the National Police Headquarters and the Budapest Capital 17th District. Together they competed and finished 3rd overall and 11th overall in the SWAT Roundup alongside Cocoa PD SWAT which finished 59th overall. “We are always happy to see them,” said Sgt. Anthony Marchica who oversees the Cocoa PD’s SWAT team. “It’s good to stay connected. We know that they are there for us and they know we are here for them. These are lifelong friendships and these days no matter where you are, you can never have too many friends.”

SWAT Roundup is held each year and is an opportunity for SWAT teams from around the world to learn from each other. The weeklong competition tests physical strength through a timed obstacle course challenge, rappel tower scramble, target shooting and scenario based challenges in which officers must make critical decisions under extreme stress. Cocoa Police SWAT officers participate in the competition almost every year. The team members met the Hungarians in 2003 and immediately connected. “These guys are in a hot region where terrorism is a volatile threat,” Sgt. Marchica added. “We have the advantage in being able to watch and learn from them, share information and just be there for each other.”

The Counter Terrorism Center of Hungary is a special police force with nationwide jurisdiction under the direct control of the Interior of Hungary, founded by the prime minister. It mainly deals with counter-terrorist activities and the majority of the police officers serving in the body are trained as SWAT officers. Bekes County is an administrative division on the border with Romania. The Presidential Protective Detachment is responsible for the protection of the Hungarian prime minister, Hungarian president and other high-ranking government and state officials and the security of several government building. They are also responsible for collecting and analyzing information about potential dangerous groups or individuals. “We were honored to have them here,” said Chief Mike Cantaloupe.