The North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall became a training ground when sheriff's deputies and other law enforcement personnel participated in a mock active shooter scenario last week.
Dawson County Sheriff's Office deputies and communications staff, as well as the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office Special Response Team (SRT) participated in the April 19 drill in which responding officers were not given any details about the scenario.
"The only information provided to the responding officers was that there was an active shooter," said Sheriff Jeff Johnson.
The scenario culminated in a hostage situation inside Saks OFF 5th store, which initiated the deployment of the Lumpkin County SRT.
Officers were presented with several decision making scenarios involving an officer down, immediate and non-immediate threat assessments, innocent bystanders and a hostage situation, obstacles that were all designed to challenge the officers in training, decision making and proficiency.
The scenario was conducted by Patrol Commander Matt Hester. Capt. Hester came to the DCSO from the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office. Johnson said Hester has extensive experience in SWAT training, firearms training and special operations.
"As our county continues to grow, it is critical that we strive to better prepare our officers," Johnson said. "It has become all too common to witness incidents of violence being perpetrated throughout our country. Therefore, it is vital that we take the necessary steps to train our officers accordingly."