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A new found respect for officers exhibited during training exercise

web posted November 14, 2007
COLUMN – I had the opportunity to train beside one of the Edgefield County Sheriff’s Deputies on Tuesday to get a better idea of what these fine men and women go through in the course of their duties each day. I have gained a much higher respect for their calm demeanor in very high-pressure situations. Though able to draw upon my experience as a former private investigator involved in past armed conflicts, it was not enough to prepare me for the situations the training thrusts upon me so quickly.

My partner for the exercise was Deputy Curtis Morris, a veteran law enforcement officer, and I relied heavily upon him to make the voice commands as I tried to back him up by watching the multiple participants in the various situations. When the shots began to ring out, and those shots were backed up with the .60 caliber paintball sized projectiles fired at us with laser precision, it was evident on how important having a partner in such a dire situation was.

At times there were multiple armed suspects, some you would never expect to become involved in the situation. The amount of information that the officer has to compile, discern, and decipher in such a short time is, at times, overwhelming, and all the while never removing his or her focus on the matter at hand.

I was impressed as I went through the many different “calls” my “partner” and I responded to and the professional and tactical precision he used in trying to bring every situation to a peaceful end. Sadly, more often than not, the situations went bad and the subjects were “killed”. Fortunately we suffered no casualties or wounds.

I also had the opportunity to observe several other officers, deputies, and jailers during training. I was equally impressed with their skills, including Investigator Jimmy Smith who ended a violent hostage situation by shooting a crazed killer in the head, saving a young woman’s life.

As deputies exited the training I spoke with many trying to get a light-hearted response to break the tension. However, the seriousness and the intensity of the training left most giving somber and profound recounts of what had taken place.
  
It was then that it struck me that our Deputies travel and answer calls alone, not with a partner. In the very real situations, some of which have played out to a peaceful end in Edgefield County, I doubt if the outcome would have been the same.

It also brought about the realization that our Deputies need adequate support in the field. In most cases the situations were over within moments of the officer’s arrival. In real life the closest back up would still be miles away leaving one deputy to fend off multiple gunmen.

I applauded Sheriff Dobey in his efforts to make this training available to all law enforcement agencies. It will no doubt save a life in the future.





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