ViewPoint: We need a functioning SWAT team

July 12, 2007

For 20 plus years, Albany and Dougherty County have been fortunate to have a top-notch Special Weapons and Tactical, or SWAT Team.

The Team is an elite group of highly-trained officers capable of handling police standoffs and hostage situations, and diffusing danger to the general public.   

This week, nearly half the team resigned.  The reason? Mainly the way the SWAT team is run, under the sole command of Albany Police Chief James Younger. Many of the team members don't have confidence in his leadership. Perhaps rightly so.

The result is this unit is now incapable of responding to critical public safety needs.   

A deadly police stand off June 4th raised serious questions about Chief Younger's judgement. While he notified some of his own officers on the SWAT team about the standoff, the entire team was NOT activated.

SWAT veterans, with decades of experience in negotiations, were bypassed altogether.    Politics? Possibly. But at who's expense? Yours. Your families'. Anyone who could step into harm's way.

This SWAT team MUST be re-built immediately. And, using the Drug Squad as an example, it's time to improve on the Albany Police leadership to run it.

Chief Younger's answer to this? we will hold try-outs next Wednesday. How will that be any more successful than the try-out's scheduled for June 6th that were canceled, due to lack of interest?

For now, the closest Swat unit is Cordele's 28 man unit, that would have a two-hour response time.   

Let's put the Sheriff, the Dougherty County Police Chief and the Albany Police chief in charge of this unit. Give them equal authority to make decisions.

The task of this SWAT team is far too important to be run by one person, especially one who's judgement is questionable.