On the first day candidates completed a shooting exercise, exposure to tear gas and 45 minutes of treading water in a pool while fully clothed and hauling heavy equipment.
If that sounds intimidating, the second day was even worse.
Strapped into a 45-pound vest, the young hopefuls clambered over logs, climbed a hill, jumped through windows, drew their weapons, navigated a drain pipe and dragged a full-weight dummy. Oh, and they only had 11 minutes to do it.
This is just some of what it takes to snag a spot on the Longueuil police force’s SWAT (special weapons and tactics) team in Quebec.
CTV Montreal was at Farnham Military Base on Sunday, for a first-hand look at day two of the tryouts for a coveted spot on the squad.
For some perspective on the gruelling process, eight candidates had already dropped out on day one.
“Let’s put it this way, it’s a hell of a day they went through yesterday,” police spokesperson Jean-Pierre Voutsinos said.
On the second day, only four out of the 17 remaining contenders successfully finished the obstacle course in the allotted 11 minutes.
“It’s to determine mental strength, team work, perseverance,” SWAT team member Eric Audet said.
To make the competition even more difficult, the candidates are kept awake for 22 hours on each day of the tryouts. The police force explained that they’re trying to simulate the high-pressure scenario that team members may experience if they make the cut.
The SWAT force is usually called in during difficult situations, often involving armed suspects, where members need to be ready for any outcome.
“The reaction to any scenario is an instinct, so either they have it or they don’t,” Voutsinos said.
The four applicants that passed the second day of tryouts will attend a five-week training course where only one of them will graduate and become a member of the SWAT team. The other three will be placed on a five-year waiting list.
“A lot of them won’t succeed, but I’m very proud that they tried,” Longueuil’s chief inspector of police operations, Denis Caouette, said.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Cindy Sherwin