MO officers go head to head in SWAT team challenge - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

MO officers go head to head in SWAT team challenge

(Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department) (Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department)
(Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department) (Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department)
(Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department) (Source: Sgt. Jason Fitzwater/Fredericktown Police Department)
FREDERICKTOWN, MO (KFVS) - Three years ago a former Fredericktown, Missouri officer was gunned down on the job. Now, his legacy lives on through the actions of his friends.

Men and women in uniform from across the state will go head to head in a SWAT team challenge; all in honor of Deputy Chris Parsons.

In the challenge, they practice drills that are truly the skills they use to defend their communities. 

"We would work out together and he would ask me about police work," said Fredericktown Chief, Eric Hovis who hired Parsons straight out of the Police Academy. "It inspired him and he wanted to be in law enforcement." 

Chief Hovis says he knew Parsons was the kind of man who would serve with his whole heart. 

"Those kinds of officers are real, there's a lot of us, we want to serve people and want to help people and it meant everything to him," said Chief Hovis.  

Chief Hovis says his service was cut far too short when Parsons was shot dead by a suspect during a man hunt in Washington County in 2012. Hovis says he made a promise to Parsons' fiance, Katie Fagan he wouldn't let his fade away. Chief Hovis says he knew he couldn't let Chris's memory die too, so he made a choice to do what Parsons would do 

"We're not going to get bitter, we're going to get better," said Chief Hovis.  

That's when they launched the Southeast Missouri SWAT Challenge. Now in it's third year, the event is meant to network between departments in friendly competition. From St. Louis to Cape Girardeau, police departments come to Fredericktown for a weekend of competition as the community watches and cheers them on. 

"We practice the drills that are part of the skills we really need to defend out communities," said Sgt. Jason Fitzwater. He was on the manhunt when Parsons was gunned down. He says it left a mark on his life and he agrees Parsons heart and legacy is one that could inspire thousands of officers and civilians alike. He knew Parsons well. 

"He was a gentle giant," said Sgt. Fitzwater. "When you did get that one-on-one with him opened up about the passion he had to be a police officer and to serve. When I think about him and remember that night I got the call he was killed, I sit there and think what if this was me. Then when I think about this event and what it means at the heart I think what if someone was doing this for my wife. It means a lot for us to honor him and celebrate his service." 

"Oh he would be so proud it just means everything to me to know he is so well known and remembered," said Katie Fagan.  

Fagan said Chris was a fun-loving protective man that would do anything for anyone. She says this display of teams come together shows love for fellow officers and community in action leaves her speechless. 

"It means so much to me that they do this and I can't wait to be there Saturday," said Fagan.  "This truly shows how something bad can be turned into a positive." 

"If this training and networking so that we work better together or helps somebody sharpen their skills to save one life then it's all worth it," said Chief Hovis. "We love Chris and we will make sure this continues." 

"If one officer learned something from the training we do at the event that would save his life or someone else then our mission is complete," echoed Sgt. Fitzwater. 

Fredericktown Officers hope the entire community and beyond will attend and enjoy the very physical event as spectators. The SWAT Challenge includes many vendors as well. There's still a few spots open for vendors and the public is encouraged to attend. 

The challenge includes departments from across the Missouri and across State Lines. Cape Girardeau's Police Department took second place in the challenge last year. 

Ron McCarthy, known in the law enforcement world as the "God Father" of SWAT will be the guest speaker Friday April 10th. 

You can click here for more information on the challenge, vendor information and also see video of past events and a look back at the life, service, death and legacy of Chris Parsons.

Here's a full link to the schedule of events for the weekend in Fredericktown: 

http://www.semoswatchallenge.com/schedule.html

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