SWAT to be reorganized - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

SWAT to be reorganized

July 20, 2007

Albany-  Law enforcement's number one priority will be reorganizing the Albany Special Weapons and Tactical Team. It'll be different this time, though. It will be a regional SWAT team that no longer answers solely to the Albany Police Chief. Instead, the Sheriff and leaders from all participating agencies will oversee its operation.

A 30 minute meeting laid the groundwork and for the next several weeks Albany and Dougherty County's law enforcement leaders will be busy reconstructing a crippled Special Weapons and Tactical Team.

"We agreed I believe that we need to have input from everybody involved, with assets involved, they need to have input and quite honestly more heads are better than one," said Chief Don Cheek, Dougherty County Police.

That's why under the reformed squad, Albany's Police Chief will no longer solely call the shots. A board will run the unit and any involved law enforcement leader who needs the team can call it out.

"If anything happened at Albany State or the Dougherty County School System Chief Conley or Chief Brown can call them out," said Dougherty County Sheriff Jamil Saba.

Thursday's short meeting helped ease growing tensions and opened the lines of communication between agencies.

"We can't change things from the past but what we can do is learn from issues and move forward and I think that's what we all want to do, I certainly do," said Cheek.

Leaders plan to meet again in three weeks to review ideas and come up with a joint written protocol to run the squad. With leadership and communication issues on the way to being resolved some members who recently resigned may rescind those resignations.

"I'm not forcing anybody to go on the SWAT Team, but I think they will go back on, yes," said Saba.

Both Cheek and Saba admit there are some hurdles to overcome, but say they're pleased with the recent discussions and believe Albany Police, Dougherty County School Police, the Sheriff's Office, Dougherty County Police, and A.S.U can pull together to better protect the citizens.

One issue that still needs to be addressed by the parties is who will serve as SWAT Commander. That will likely be resolved next month.

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