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Lethbridge Police celebrate 50th anniversary of Tactical Team

The Lethbridge Police Service is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its Tactical Team – a specially trained unit that responds to high-risk calls.

Over the past five decades, about 70 officers have served on the Tactical Team and witnessed an evolution in training, equipment and tactics. 

In celebration of the 50-year milestone, current and former Tac members got together today for a reunion to reminisce, and for the retired members, check out some of the Team’s current equipment, including the new Armoured Rescue Vehicle (ARV) that was acquired last year to enhance officer and public safety. 

On December 31, 1974 Chief Ralph Michelson authorized the creation of a Special Weapons and Tactics Sniper Team to respond to “hostage, armed and dangerous situations.” The original team consisted of five members: Glen Michelson (team commander), Frank Bathgate, Len Kolpak, Bill Plomp and Norm Whelpley. Michelson, Kolpak and Plomp are the only surviving members of the original five. 

Today, the Tactical Team as it is now known, is part of the Critical Incident Unit, which includes the Explosive Disposal Unit, Crisis Negotiators, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Unit, Scribes and Incident Commanders. There are currently 17 members with one Team Commander, Sgt. Denton Michelson, who is the great nephew of the team’s first commander.

Serving with Tac is a collateral or secondary duty and all members have full-time roles in other units throughout the Police Service. Joining Tac involves a rigorous day of extensive physical testing many have described as the hardest day of their career. But beyond physical fitness, members are selected based on criteria such as decision-making, teamwork, weapons proficiency and integrity. They go on to receive specialized training in firearms, less-lethal weapon systems, driving tactics, operation of remote camera systems, chemical agents, First Aid and other areas of tactical operations. 

Members have attended courses run by the RCMP, Calgary Police Service, Edmonton Police Service and regularly attend seminars organized by the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA).

The Tactical Team is called out during high-risk incidents, including calls involving weapons, high-risk search warrants, hostage-takings, active assailant situations, barricaded subjects and other circumstances where the nature of the incident puts the public, police or subjects at significant risk. Team members are trained to use specialized equipment and tactics to help resolve these situations as safely as possible. 


Lethbridge Police Service
135 1 Avenue South
Lethbridge, Alberta T1J 0A1

Non-Emergency Phone: 403-328-4444
General Inquiries Phone: 403-327-2210
Email: General Inquiries
(not monitored 24/7)

Hours for public access:
Monday to Friday - 7:30 am to 4:00 pm
Closed weekends and statutory holidays



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