Elite police officers from around the world have told of dicing with death and the devastation of losing colleagues in the line of duty after showcasing their skills in a gruelling Dubai competition.
The third UAE Swat Challenge brought together 41 special task forces from 21 countries to take part in five tests in as many days - covering tactical, assault, officer rescues, tower events and obstacle courses - aimed at examining their tactical skills, mental focus and physical endurance under the glare of world-class competition.
While the teams pushed themselves to the limit to come out on top, the event was a chance to celebrate their kinship and share expertise with the common goal of upholding the law in mind.
Abu Dhabi Police's Team A were crowned the overall winners ahead of Dubai Police's A team, with Abu Dhabi's B team making up the top three.
“All of the teams are taking something back from the competition, if not the win, it's the expertise,” said Lt Col Mohammad Al Rashash, deputy director of Patrols of Abu Dhabi Police’s Special Forces F7, on the final day of the competition.
“Our team is excellent. It has been ready mentally and physically and its members have their eyes set on the first place.”
The dangers of combating traffickers
Javiera Francisca Tobar Roa, a sniper from Santiago, Chile, knows only too well the risks she faces each day.
“During a raid on drug traffickers last year, we lost one of our police force members. It's tough when you leave the scene missing one team member,” she said.
Ms Javiera, 28, joined her team three years ago after passing a training course that she considered the hardest in her short career.
She enjoyed the opportunity to meet highly-skilled offers from all over the world.
“It showed me other teams' potential and skills; it introduced me to different cultures, especially the UAE and Arab cultures through Dubai,” she said.
From lawyer to enforcing the law
Brazilian sniper Patricia Amaro, 34, is determined to see justice be done.
She swapped life as a lawyer to follow her childhood dream to fight crime head on - refusing to let anyone stand in her way.
“Many men tried to push me to give up, but I stayed and learned fast,” she said.
“Now I am really good at my job. I am a sniper, K9 officer, skilled marksman in shooting at a target in crowded areas,” she said.
She recalled being attacked several times and nearly killed, yet it is not the memories of those incidents she carries with her.
“At the time of the mission I don’t think about what I see, but I do afterwards,” she said.
“One incident last year left a mark in my life because I had to arrest a child, 13, for selling drugs.”
“It was very difficult for me to see a child that could be mine, to see children born in poverty and landing in a life of crime.”
UAE teams relish opportunity
First Sergeant Ahmad Al Kaabi, 35, from Abu Dhabi Police Special Forces F7, said competing teams are adapting to the challenges of the event each year.
“The environment of the Swat Challenge is provoking them to prepare differently to keep up with other teams,” he said.
He said the event provided an opportunity to learn and improve for all teams.
Sharjah Police enjoyed the chance to pit themselves against the world's best once more.
“In each edition we were spotting what other teams have and we didn't and since then we have been improving our skills and training facilities,” said Lt Col Ahmad Al Owais, supervisor of the Sharjah Team.
“The challenge is real-life training and it's where we test our skills and readiness.”