Thomasville, Georgia-- Thomas County's finest are making sure they're able to defend themselves, and you.
Chuck McDonald is one of the deputies qualifying with his Glock 40 handgun and M-16 rifle. "We try to qualify at least two times a year as a regular road deputy. Some of us are designated SRT members, Special Response Team. We qualify an additional twice a year," says McDonald.
Qualifying isn't a matter of point and shoot. Firearms instructors say it requires concentration and split second thinking. "We do 25 yards up to the five yard line. We have pneumatic targets, which means they turn by air. Once the target turns, for each course of fire they have a different time limit to shoot so many rounds. They're required to shoot a 210 out of a possible 300 score," says instructor, David Godwin.
That's a lot to handle. But the pressure of what happens if deputies don't qualify is even worse. "If they don't qualify in three chances they're submitted to their supervisor and their firearm is taken away from them until they do qualify," says Godwin.
Considering a deputies life is on the line, that's the only option. They never know when they could be looking at the business end of someone else's gun. "Hopefully that will never happen. But if it does, this training here makes you more proficient with your weapon," says Deputy, Kevin Lee. "When you get into a stressful situation or a delicate situation, you're going to react the way you train, so you take your training seriously," adds McDonald. Case in point: So far, each of the deputies went back out on the road immediately.
Only one Thomas County Sheriff's deputy has ever been shot and killed in the line of duty.