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SWAT rappels into training
Exercises prepare team for real scenario
6 Swat Training pic3
Cpl. Nick Sarisky of the Dawson County Sheriff's Special Response Team rappels from a third story window at the county's training facility. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

They are only mobilized a half dozen times each year, but the Dawson County Sheriff’s Special Response Team is ready when the call goes out.


The team made up of 10 veteran special operation officers trains monthly in preparation for any calls that require tactical maneuvers and physical agility.


“We were called out two weeks ago for a high risk search warrant and respond in events when patrol might need help handling the situation manpower-wise,” said Assistant Team Leader Ray Goodie.


Team members represent the department’s various divisions, including, traffic enforcement, K9, narcotics, criminal investigations, patrol and court services.


The team is trained in hostage negotiations, SWAT operations, search and rescue, barricaded subjects and building clearing, among others.


State mandates also require team members to be certified in rappelling, a skill team members do not anticipate using often.


“There aren’t a whole lot of buildings higher than two stories in Dawson County, but we do have some pretty rugged terrain. This training gives us the upper hand if we had to make a rescue at places like Amicalola Falls or Devil’s Elbow on the rivers,” Goodie said.


In addition to their own training, team members are also responsible for mentoring new recruits to the team.


Earlier this year, each team member was assigned a rookie officer from the detention center who passed an agility test and are preparing to join the team once they graduate from police academy.


“The mentoring program not only prepares the recruits to ultimately join our team, but also helps them prepare for mandate (officer certification),” Goodie said.


Once the recruits are certified officers, they will complete their probationary year, go through several weeks of training in patrol with a veteran officer and pass the state’s SWAT level one course before being accepted to the team.


To remain active, special response team members must re-certify annually by passing physical agility tests and by shooting at least two scores of 90 or better on the Georgia qualifications course for police officers, in addition to 16 hours of training each month.