Nearly half of SWAT resigns - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Nearly half of SWAT resigns

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July 12, 2007

Albany-  Albany and Dougherty County are without a fully functional SWAT team, nearly half of the team resigned in part to protest the way the Albany Police Chief runs the unit.

Four of the nine SWAT members resigned Wednesday. Three of them work for the Dougherty County Sheriff's office, one works for Dougherty County Police. One of those officers takes issue with the leadership and command situations.

After 21 years on the Special Weapons and Tactical Team, Sheriff's Captain Tim Hanington is packing up his gear one last time. Lately, this veteran elite officer's feels he's been left out of the loop.

"There have been some leadership and command situations that have not been as we knew them to be in the past and it's caused, it's disturbing to some of our members," said Hanington.

The SWAT Team is the go-to group with specialized training to deal with a crisis. Previously, a watch commander called the shots. Now, led by APD Captain Mack Green, who some complain has no SWAT training, and overseen by APD Chief James Younger, team members say only certain members are being called out.

"In reference to some of our callouts, there's been some problems with the natures of our call outs. Some of our members of the SWAT team in the upper command of the team have been left out of the decision or actually the communication from call outs being made," said Hanington.

Recently criticized, a decision not to call out the entire SWAT team June 4th when a man shot and killed himself after a three hour police standoff.

"I know that there are some concerns," said Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek who had an officer resign.

Cheek says the SWAT team needs to be reorganized, and run by a board of police leaders, not by just one agency-- Albany Police.

"It's not a comfortable situation for me, to if I can't get in touch with somebody, to not have the authority to call out SWAT if I needed them somewhere in the unincorporated county," said Cheek.

Cheek says you never know day to day what might happen. Having SWAT's negotiation techniques is critical. Now that is compromised.

We contacted Albany Police for a comment about the SWAT team situation and their response was they have to accept the letters of resignation from team members. Previously scheduled try-outs for the squad are next Wednesday.

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