FBI conducts joint GPD-SCSO hostage rescue training

Personnel of the Griffin Police Department and the Spalding County Sheriff's Office recently underwent specialized bus rescue training under the instruction of FBI hostage rescue agents.

Personnel of the Griffin Police Department and the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office recently underwent specialized bus rescue training under the instruction of FBI hostage rescue agents.

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

FBI personnel were recently in Griffin to conduct hostage rescue and barricaded suspect training for the Griffin Police Department Special Response Team (SRT) and Spalding County Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Unit.
According to Lt. Darrell Dix, the GPD’s training officer, FBI hostage rescue agents conducted the training at no cost to the local agencies.
“They came to Griffin free-of-charge to put on the training for us,” he said. “It was a bus hostage rescue and barricaded suspect training. It was geared towards hostage takers on a school bus.”
The training exercise was held on the Police Department’s back lawn and involved approximately 20 law enforcement officers. Support was also received from the Griffin-Spalding County School System through the donation of a bus used to stage training scenario.
“They (school officials) allowed us to use a surplus school bus. It was directed particularly at children that are taken hostage on school buses and rescuing them from the hostage takers,” Dix said.
FBI agents covered such techniques as different methods of approach and the organizational planning necessary in the event such an incident occurs.
“God forbid, if there is an incident like this that occurs, this is a last resort, but we have the training and plans in place now if we need to go in and execute one of these hostage rescues,” Dix said. “Having had this training, we can now respond immediately. We don’t have to wait for anyone else to respond.”
He explained that this method of tactical response came to pass in the aftermath of the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado.
“There’s been a paradigm shift – a change in response and a change in the mindset of how we respond,” Dix said.
Prior to the Columbine massacre, the standard protocol was for initial responding officers to establish a perimeter and await SWAT team arrival.
In that incident, the result was officers being positioned outside the school, listening to gunfire that was taking children’s lives.
“During the 45 minutes they were waiting for SWAT teams to respond, there were students dying in an active shooter scenario,” Dix said.
Without the training provided by the FBI, local law enforcement agencies would be in a similar situation – awaiting the arrival of other departments’ personnel.
“It’s better to have training and not need it than need it and not have it,” Dix said. “I know some people will say this is characteristic of law enforcement being militaristic, but it’s not. It’s realistic, because the people who will take a busload of students hostage aren’t your run of the mill people. These people are highly motivated and most of the time, highly agitated. They have to be contained in a different manner than they could have been 20 years ago. It goes back to Columbine. Instead of standing outside and listening to gunfire while waiting for the SWAT team, we have been trained to go in and take care of the situation ourselves.” Ω

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