Securing the Summit - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Special Report--

Securing the Summit

Captain David Brack, Civil Disturbance Commander Captain David Brack, Civil Disturbance Commander
Sgt. Gary Mills, Georgia State Trooper Sgt. Gary Mills, Georgia State Trooper
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March 1, 2004

Forsyth-- It's expected to be one of the biggest events this state will ever see. June 8th through 10th, Georgia will host the 2004 Group 8, or G-8 Summit on Sea Island.

Leaders from the world's eight major industrial democracies will meet to discuss social, economic, political and security issues of global importance. And they'll be followed by thousands of sometimes violent protesters.

"It's probably the biggest event we've had come to the state since the Georgia Olympics," said Sgt. Gary Mills, Georgia State Trooper.

Here in America, they have the freedom to speak their minds. "We understand the public has a right to peacefully protest," said Captain David Brack, Civil Disturbance Commander.

But if things get out of hand, these guys will be there to take charge. "The key to all this is protecting the people that's going to be there and protecting the community, that's our goal," said Mills.

This team is made up of more than 1,000 Georgia State Troopers and Department of Corrections officers. They make up Georgia's mobile field force, responsible for providing riot control at the summit. "The training that we're doing at this moment is to disperse a crowd, or to arrest someone that may become violent," said Brack.

Armed with their riot shields, helmets, and batons, they're ready to face the most violent protesters. "We're very well prepared to stop it, I assure you," said Brack.

They've been training all year at The Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, and will continue this routine every day until two weeks before the summit. "Our philosophy has always been the key to performance is preparation," said Mills.

And even though they're not sure exactly what obstacles they may face there, they're studying up on past world summits to make sure history doesn't repeat itself. "We've looked at all these videos and studied the different scenes that come out of them so we'd be able to prepare ourselves better," said Marcia Chapman of the Department of Corrections.

Also lending a hand in securing the G-8 summit are members of the Army National Guard. At the Valdosta armory, they've been training since January for what will be one of their most important missions ever. "I'm prepared for the worst but expecting the best," said Ssgt. Thomas North.

These guys are trained to look for the not so obvious threats, starting from the first step anyone will set on the island. "We're checking that they have valid credentials and that they're vehicles are clear of anything that should be there, weapons, explosives, etc.," said North.

From the most important leaders, to journalists and hotel staff, every single person attending the summit must pass their inspection. "It's a very detailed process," said North. Using a special detection wand, they search every inch of the body, and a mirrored detection device makes sure no trace of a vehicle is left uncovered. "You could do it 100 times and there's something you're going to learn on each individual time because every vehicle could be different," said North.

And if you try to breeze through their traffic control points, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle won't let you get too far. "A Bradley would be here to engage any type of suicide bombers or any vehicles of that sort, or personnel that were threatening our checkpoint," said Captain Marc Belscamper.

Where there's not a traffic control checkpoint, there's bound to be a mounted patrol on the lookout. "You go through towns or your sector and look for things that sort of stand out from the obvious," said North. A hum-v topped with a soldier and his M2HB 50 caliber machine gun is constantly on the prowl for danger.

They're two different groups with different jobs at the summit, but their missions are the same. "We're going to help and assist other agencies there to protect and serve the people of Georgia," said Mills.

And both groups ensure that teamwork will provide the highest quality of security, not just on Sea Island, but all across the state.

An estimated 20,000 security forces will work the G-8 Summit. About 25 million dollars in federal money will pay for the security.

posted at 3:15 by ashley.harper@walb.com