FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- A smashed window, sharp voices and the sudden thump of stun grenades signaled the start of an operation last week to capture a gunman who had barricaded himself inside a home on Mills Road.

With precision, a combined team of Fort Jackson police and Richland County Sheriff's deputies burst into the house, taking only seconds to find and apprehend the suspect, who was armed with a handgun and hiding in an upstairs bedroom.

Fortunately, the "bad guy" was really one of the good guys and the seemingly dangerous scenario was only a training exercise.

Such training scenarios are common, both on Fort Jackson and in civilian law enforcement. And for the Soldiers and civilians who make up the Fort Jackson police force, training with the Richland County Sheriff's Department is nothing new.

But as of Tuesday, what had been an informal arrangement is now a formal agreement for Fort Jackson's Special Reaction Team to train and operate with its counterpart from the Richland County Sheriff's Department, called the Special Response Team.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said during a ceremony at the Emergency Services building here at Fort Jackson that the military post is a large part of the Columbia community.

"It's very important that we keep Fort Jackson safe," Lott said. "I hope that we never have to come out here for something that's real."

In addition to training, the agreement formally allows the Richland County Special Response Team to come to Fort Jackson to assist in high-risk law-enforcement operations such as a hostage situation.

"Our SRT ... is very capable," Lt. Col. Ronald Taylor, Fort Jackson's provost marshal, said. "But this gives us the ability to bring in additional manpower from the Richland County Sheriff's Department if there is some major incident or multiple incidents where we need help."

Taylor said that while the formal agreement is good for post security, it also fosters good will with the community.

"It definitely benefits the sheriff's department because we will now have access to first-rate military training facilities such as the live-fire ranges," said Lt. Ricky Ezzell, the supervisor of SRT training for the Richland County Sheriff's Department.

Capt. Kathryn Shaw, commander of the 17th MP Detachment, said during last week's training exercise that the agreement between the two law-enforcement agencies will ultimately mean a safer environment for those who work and live on Fort Jackson.

"The bottom line is that this gives the post increased security," Shaw said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16