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SWAT team gets donation

LANETT — A $23,765 grant from the Charter Foundation to the Lanett Police Department will allow the Chambers County Multi-Jurisdictional SWAT team to receive new equipment.

The grant will cover the cost for 20 new ballistic helmets, 20 tactical gas masks and filter canisters and 20 tactical sets of headset communication devices.

The local SWAT team was designed to have 20 officers. A total of 16 are serving at the present time, and more are expected to be added in the future.

The new helmet will be an upgrade over what members of the SWAT team are currently wearing. The ones currently in use date to the 1980s. The new ones are much improved over them, having night vision capability along with state-of-the-art gas masks and communication devices.

“This is much better than what we had when I went through SWAT team training in the 1980s,” Valley Police Chief Tommy Weldon said. “Back then, the only way we could communicate with each other was with hand signals. These new helmets allow officers to communicate with each other with no one else listening in.”

Lanett Police Chief Johnny Wood said the new equipment will provide better protection and further enhance the deployment capabilities of the SWAT team. 

“Thank you Bill Gladden and the Charter Foundation board members for understanding our needs expressed in our application and awarding the funds needed so we can enhance our specialized services to all citizens residing in Chambers County,” Wood said. “Special thanks to Mayor Kyle McCoy for allowing Lanett to be an applicant and the fiduciary in this process and to utilize our resources for the betterment of law enforcement not only in the City of Lanett but also in Valley, LaFayette and all of Chambers County.”

SWAT Team Commander Jason Fuller said that SWAT teams are called on in situations when conventional law enforcement action has been drawn to a stalemate.

“If we ever get called, it means that every other action has been put to it and has not been successful,” Fuller said. “The less we get called the better. When we get called, it’s a pretty grim situation.”

The SWAT team was called in to action in the recent past in a kidnapping incident in West Point. The suspect in the incident was hiding in a house. The SWAT team went in and searched every room before finding him hiding in the attic.

Team leader Terry Daniel talked about the rigorous training members of the SWAT team have to go through.

The training takes place at Jacksonville State University and candidates must score at least 90 percent in shooting, must do a certain number of push-ups and sit ups in less than a minute, and must run a mile in a certain timeframe.