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Several major violations have been found surrounding the death of a Casa Grande police officer during a Pinal County Sheriff's Office SWAT training exercise, according to a state agency.
Sgt. Tate Lynch, 36, died Oct. 25 when he fell nearly 50 feet while rappelling off a county jail building in Florence.
The Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health cited the sheriff's office for several infractions, finding that no safety checks were done on equipment; the instructor overseeing the exercise lacked qualification with training only from an intermediate rappelling class; and no safety spotters or equipment, including helmets, were used.
The report compiled by ADOSH shows almost no safety measures or precautions were taken and little instruction, if any, was provided to the rappellers.
Vanessa White, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, declined comment Wednesday on the ADOSH investigation as well as a separate investigation by the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
But White said that since Lynch's death, the sheriff's office has suspended all rappelling exercises and is reorganizing SWAT command and procedures.
It has also created a position to oversee training and formed a review board of experts from outside police departments.
Lynch was a two-year member of the sheriff's office SWAT team, made up of officers from several county police departments.
The sheriff's office has hired a law firm to challenge citations from ADOSH, which issued two $7,000 fines, the most severe penalty allowed.



ARIZONA REPUBLIC
 
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