SCSO personnel receive SWAT training; agency’s first ever SRT established

4.14.17 SCSO SRT art for web final

Those pictured are front row L-R: School Resource Officer Eraste Trahan, Deputy Michael Storey, Cpl. Ryan Bowlden and Special Agent Taylor Dix. Back row L-R Investigator Todd Hendrix, Deputy Ronnie Whitehouse, Deputy Garrett Deason, Special Agent Chris Voyles, Special Agent Chad Gasaway, Sgt. Josh Pitts, Cpl. James Cape, Gang Investigator Tony Little, Deputy Cameron Arnold, Sheriff Darrell Dix and Chief Deputy Tony Thomason. Photo courtesy of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Spalding County Sheriff’s Office has established its first Special Response Team (SRT).

From April 10 through 14, 13 SCSO personnel attended Basic Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) training at the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office that included team movement, dynamic and methodical entry and building clearing techniques, hostage rescue, critical incident response, incident planning and advanced firearm skills.

The 13 deputies who attended this SWAT training represented the Uniform Patrol, Warrant and Criminal Investigation divisions, Special Operations Unit, School Resource Officers and administration.

“This gives us 19 deputies agency-wide with training in specialized response tactics,” said Sheriff Darrell Dix. “Having people here with this specialized training, it means we can quickly respond to situations internally. Without the training, we might have to wait a response from personnel assisting from another agency.”

Dix explained the importance of having personnel with this specialized training throughout the different divisions that comprise the Sheriff’s Office.

“By spreading deputies trained in these advanced operational techniques across the agency, it allows for a better chance that if a critical incident such as an active shooter event, barricaded suspect or hostage taking occurs, there will be deputies already working that can respond with the skill set needed to assess the situation and end it more safely with a well-planned course of action. The ultimate goal is to respond in the best way available and save lives,” he said.

When asked why he believes it necessary to invest in this specialized training and a dedicated SRT that has never before existed at the SCSO, Dix said, “With the increase in gang activity, and just the general increase in violent crime that’s happening across the nation, it appears that having people who are specially trained in these types of tactics is more necessary these days than ever before. It’s kind of like insurance for your car – you’d rather have it and need it than need it and not have it. What it means is that we have a group of deputies that are spread out across the agency. If there’s a critical incident, they’re better able to respond to it. We’ll have a faster response, a safer response. When it comes to doing high risk search warrants or high risk arrest warrants, if we have a team of people who are specially trained in those tactics to do those things, it makes for a safer community. Higher levels of training make for a safer community.”

Dix explained that his use of SRT – Special Response Team – is the equivalent of what some agencies designate as a SWAT team.

“It’s SWAT training. It’s training using the standards that are set out by the National Tactical Officers Association, or NTOA,” he said. “This is the first time the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office has fielded a Special Response Team (S.R.T.) with these special skills and training. These officers will be on call as needed to respond to critical incidents.”

He said he does believe this will be one additional component to be utilized in increasing the professionalism of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office as well as increasing public safety.

“It’s one of those things that’s a safety issue for the community – having people trained and being able to save lives,” he said. “This training also allows us to utilize these deputies and their skills in high risk situations as we move forward with our plan of putting increased pressure on gangs and violent offenders. The majority of the tools needed to respond to these incidents and the continued training of the deputies will be paid for through seized drug funds.”

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