(SAVANNAH) Police activity turns a lot of heads in downtown Savannah Thursday morning, but there was no emergency. The Special Weapons and Tactics team, or SWAT, staged a major training exercise utilizing rappelling and helicopters. Nearly two dozen team members rallied on Hutchinson Island and were shuttled by their aviation units to a rooftop in the 200 block of East Bryan Street. Lieutenant Dan Flood, SWAT Commander for the Savannah Chatham Metro Police Department, says the specialized nature of his unit is vital to law enforcement in the Hostess City. “We handle most of the high risk areas that normal officers are trained or equipped to do.” said Flood.
The training exercise is designed to enhance SWAT’s capabilities to rapidly respond to a multiple level building and effectively resolve a hostage, barricaded gunman or active shooter situation. “We’ve had a lot of situations in the country lately that have, uh, basically tasked the resources of law enforcement, um, one of the things we wanna be able to do is train for all hazards. We wanna be able to respond efficiently and effectively.” Flood said.
The training also afforded officers the chance to sharpen rappelling skills, one of the most demanding elements of the exercise. Flood says there’s no doubt about the danger, but safety measures were in place to protect the team as they’re put through their paces getting from rooftop to the ground via rope. “We’ve got safety officers that are, are, tech officers that are going to be making sue that everything is safe, as safe as it can be.” said Flood.
The sight of a heavy police presence and rooftop helicopter landings drew a small crowd of bystanders. Marie Iszory of Lima, Ohio, says she appreciates police sharpening their skills to protect the public. “I have total respect for our police and I think that the more training they do the better that they can do their jobs, so I mean it;s really important that they get this.” Iszory said.
Flood says it took months of planning and resource coordination to make the training exercise a success. He adds that it’s focused on more than skills like rappelling. “Another part to that is tactics.” Flood said. The tactical training occurred away from public view so the criminal element isn’t tipped to the tricks of the SWAT trade. The team conducts major exercises as many as three time a year, Flood says regular training is staged every other week.