Local SWAT team receives firearm training

Trainers say one lesson that requires a lot of training is moving and shooting at a target at the same time / Sarah Bleau

For nearly 13 years, the Georgia Association of Law Enforcement Fire Arms Instructors has been helping local officers with SWAT training by bringing in various instructors from across the state.

Each instructor teaches a skill in a different way, but officers and trainers say the variation in instruction is not a disadvantage for officers.

"It's kind of like tools in the toolbox, they can pick the ones they like the best, that works best for them and what's basically the safest," says David Aderhold, a training director from the Barrow County Sheriff's Office.

Albany police, Dougherty County police and even local EMS receives the training.

"If something does happen and they need medical attention it is better that they have it right here on the scene unlike in the old days when the swat medic was parked two or three houses down in the truck," says Aderhold about EMS being trained.

On Tuesday, training focused on shooting a gun at a target while moving at the same time. Trainers say it's a challenging lesson and one that takes a lot of practice and training.

"We'll actually be shooting from the side instead of just straight forward, they'll be moving, they'll do lateral shooting also, right handed and left handing because when you're entering you never know where that threat may show up at," says Aderhold.

The training puts SWAT officers in situations they may not have experienced yet.

"We're doing more stress shooting and some of our weaknesses have been exposed but at the same time we're learning more about ourselves," says Lt. Michael Persley with the SWAT team.

While officers are focused on fixing weaknesses, trainers say they noticed strengths.

"I was already told before I came down here that they were a very good shooting and very good elite team, and I've seen that since we've been here. We've seen the caliber of these officers way above a lot of other officers and teams that we've trained," says Aderhold.

Having a high caliber is important when it comes to what they say is the duty of a SWAT team: Not taking out a life but rather saving a life.

"An old adage I was told when I first came in is 'When the citizens need help they call the police; when the police need help, they call the SWAT,'" says Capt. Tim Hanington with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

On Wednesday and Thursday, SWAT members will be trained on building entry.