Minneapolis Cop Survives on SWAT Reality Show - for Now
When the call came, Tony Caspers eagerly accepted the challenge: spend a month in 90-degree temperatures storming yachts and airplanes, scoping out buildings, and shooting far-off targets on a moving dock, using the expertise he had honed in his two decades as a Minneapolis SWAT officer.
All while facing the threat of constant elimination that would send him packing his bags for home.
With money and pride on the line.
On national television.
With five days' notice.
"I was on a plane within that next week," recalled Caspers, 45, inside the Minneapolis police department's SWAT locker room on Wednesday. "I'll remember this all my life."
Caspers is one of 14 SWAT operators from departments across the country - from Los Angeles to Atlanta - who are contestants on "Elite Tactical Unit: S.W.A.T.," an "adrenaline-fueled" reality show on Outdoor Channel.
The 13-week series eliminates an operator each week until a winner is crowned with a $10,000 check, along with $100,000 for the winning officer's department. The season finale airs March 27.
Caspers said he did not even know there was prize money when he agreed to burn a month of personal vacation time and go on the show, which was taped in July.
Caspers signed a confidentiality agreement standard for reality shows that forbids him from revealing when he gets eliminated, whether he won, or any details of the show, before the episodes air.
(Episode 6 aired Wednesday night at 8pm Central Time; on Comcast cable systems in the metro, it's on channel 870)
When the 24-year law enforcement veteran was asked whether he was nervous while competing on the show, Caspers didn't hesitate before replying, "I was very nervous."
"You are. You don't show it, 'cause this is like blood in the water with sharks. I mean, these guys are all meat-eaters. They want to win. There's a lot of money on the line."
Producers outfitted Caspers with gear and cameras, and he said felt the weight of his fellow cops back in Minneapolis.
"If I would have got voted off first, I would have never lived it down," he said.
"The pressure there was not to let my department down. I represent Minneapolis police. I represent SWAT officers all over the Midwest and I didn't want to come in there and let them down."
Click here to learn more about the show, "Elite Tactical Unit: S.W.A.T.," on Outdoor Channel.
Click here to watch extended video provided by Outdoor Channel of Minneapolis SWAT officer Tony Caspers competing.
Click here to read Tony Caspers' show biography.