Updated Wed, Aug 28, 2013 6:58 am
The Pickaway County Sheriff’s Office has a new special response team to handle high-risk situations in the county.
Sheriff Robert Radcliff said the eight-man team is comprised of mostly road patrol deputies who have completed SWAT training in preparation for responding to active shooters, hostage rescues and search warrants.
“We’ve had two or three hostage situations in the past few years and several shooting situations,” Radcliff said. “We had to step up our response.”
Radcliff said it was an issue he heard a lot on the campaign trail last year and then heard more about while attending new sheriffs training in December, during the same time as the Sandy Hook school shooting.
“It’s something I had thought about before I took office,” he said. “With the drug activity that we have and the situations we’re seeing more and more, we need the ability to have officers with additional tactical training.”
Radcliff said the Columbus Police Department gave the sheriff’s office a military hummer in February and officers have been attending training throughout the year, including local exercises at schools and abandoned buildings. The last five officers will complete their training next month.
“It’s the same training as the SWAT team would do, but this isn’t a SWAT team,” Radcliff said. “We can’t possibly do all the things that a 24/7 SWAT team does, but if we have a school shooting or hostage situation, we can contain it until we get the Franklin County or Columbus SWAT team here.”
Radcliff said the SRT unit, which is funded through seized drug money, will be mostly responsible for carrying out high-risk search warrants, but they are also prepared to respond to emergencies.
“In the world today,” he said, “it’s become almost a necessity to have a unit like this."