Local and state law-enforcement agencies are ready to respond to emergencies like a hostage situation or an active shooter, according to Maj. J.W. Hodges, Hinesville assistant police chief, and Gordy Wright, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Public Safety.
“It would depend on the situation as to how we’d react to a particular scenario,” Hodges said. “Every situation is different. Hodges would not say how his department would react to a specific emergency because that information could be used by someone who might be planning something. Too much information could be used by such a person to prepare for a probable police response.
He did say some Hinesville police officers have been trained in hostage negotiations and what to do in case of an “active shooter” in a public place. However, if the situation required a team of officers with specialized training, the city does not have a rapid deployment team or a special weapons and tactics team. If a SWAT team is needed, his department would contact the Georgia State Patrol, which would mobilize its SWAT unit comprised of any group of troopers assembled, as all state troopers receive SWAT training.
“Every state trooper is trained for active-shooter situations,” said Wright, noting that some officers receive even more training than others. “If you have an active-shoot situation, our troopers can respond and, while relying on their training, confront the gunman and conclude the situation.”
Wright said state troopers are trained to respond to a shooter situations in malls, workplaces, homes, highways and schools. Troopers periodically stop by schools in their patrol area to familiarize themselves with the building and staff members.
“The Georgia State Patrol’s SWAT can be mobilized if needed, especially for a hostage situation,” he said, noting that if the situation required an immediate response, a team could be formed quickly for that situation. “We would pull all available troopers in and other off-duty troopers, if necessary, in order to supplement local law enforcement.”
He said the GSP provides more services to the public than simply ensuring highway safety. The GSP also provides aviation units that can be used for traffic control or aerial surveillance during a crisis situation and even has a team of divers available to check for survivors or bodies in submerged vehicles.
Wright said it was more feasible economically for the state to train, maintain and deploy a SWAT team to support and assist other agencies.