Members of the Special Weapons and Tactical unit, better known as SWAT, have to be prepared for any dangerous situation. It’s a high risk job that calls for special training.
A department in Mississippi just added a swat team with one member already making waves.
Out of 30 police officers in Senatobia, 13 of them are taking on a new role with the department.
One of them stands out more than the rest.
“We’ve got about eight operators and about five, four or five negotiators,” SWAT Team Commander, Will Cunningham said.
Like the partners they are, the group travels one by one through SWAT training, sparking sounds you can hear a mile away.
“We started different positions. The sniper element is one element of the SWAT team. We’ve got negotiations and things that go into the SWAT team and that’s where Katie came involved,” Cunningham said.
With the Senatobia Police Department for just a year, 22-year-old Katie Studebaker is the only woman within the unit.
The experience is very familiar to her.
“I’ve had friends, I’ve had a family tell me that I can’t do it. That’s one of the main reasons why I keep doing what I’m doing, because I just like to prove people wrong,” Katie said.
Katie’s been around men most of her life, from her start in EMT school with mostly male firefighters to being surrounded by men in the military.
Deployed to Kuwait as military police, Katie wanted to experience policing on the civilian side.
“You could tell she had had experience in the military too so when the opportunity came up to center to sniper school, we picked her and she went and did fantastic. I think she was the most improved in the school,” Cunningham said.
Standing at 5’5, Katie is now a sniper.
“I’m an adrenaline junkie so I want to kick down doors and go in there and arrest the bad guy,” Katie said.
Katie is the first female sniper Cunningham has ever worked with in his over two-decade career.
She was shocked to learn she’s also the second female sniper in the state of Mississippi.
“As long as you put your foot down or put your mind to it, you can achieve really anything you want to,” Katie said.
Hoping to represent women in male dominated fields, Katie is a part of this team like everyone else. She is just one that stands out more than the rest.