Albany SWAT team agents held a unique training session today. It was the most excitement the secluded streets of St. John's Estates have seen in years.
SWAT's unique role in executing high risk entries and diffusing dangerous standoffs makes these types of scenario-based exercises vital. "SWAT trains every month," said Sheriff Kevin Sproul of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office. "This is just a one-time event that you all are allowed to come out and see but they're out here every month."
Team members practiced approach, forced entry, and even handling a 'man-down' situation.
The now defunct Boyett Village military housing community makes for a perfect training ground. "They've got different floor plans out here, different configurations of the blocks and the proximity of the houses," said Chief Don Cheek of the Dougherty County Police Dept.
Even as law enforcement officials evaluated the team's performance, they expressed concern over the effect budget constraints could have on SWAT. "There are things that the SWAT team needs that is above and beyond what the regular police officer needs," said Chief John Proctor of the Albany Police Dept. "That equipment is expensive but it is necessary."
"Vests are always having to be updated," added Sproul. "They have a lifespan on the vest. The weaponry they use - we're always trying to upgrade."
Sheriff Kevin Sproul compared the SWAT team with the closer on a major league baseball team. You don't think about them until you need them but when that times comes, they have to be ready and ready to come out firing. "When it gets to a situation or rises to a situation where the everyday street police can't handle it, then the SWAT's called in," said Sproul.
"When people need help, they call the cops," added Cheek. "When the cops need help, they call SWAT."