Savannah-Chatham Police Field Force Training - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

02/11/04

Savannah-Chatham Police Field Force Training

In less than four months, the world's most important leaders are coming to the Coastal Empire for the G-8 summit. The event is also expected to draw thousands of protesters from around the world. Police and security experts are working around the clock to make sure the event is safe for everyone involved.

As police were undergoing training this morning, they were doing what's called field force training. Officers wear helmets and carrying shields and batons, but it's all designed to protect them as they take on what could be a very dangerous job.

"We expect to have some marches and some protests," said field force commander Lt. George Walker. "The great majority of people who come here will be peaceful protesters trying to get their point across."

But police are training for hours at a time, in the days and weeks leading up to the summit on Sea Island. The goal is to be ready if trouble arises, like at previous summits. "If some of the fringe elements start breaking the law, we will deal with it," said Lt. Walker.

Police have been practicing field force training for years, but this is the first time they've trained together as a platoon. "We're learning a lot," said Sgt. Dionne Thompson. "We're learning how to keep together as a team to overcome obstacles when they do arrive."

"This is not an individual officer responding to an incident," added Capt. Gerry Long. "This is a team of people who will be deployed as a team, as a platoon."

And one that is confident. They're prepared for what lies ahead. This is one of several training exercises Savannah-Chatham police are doing to prepare for the summit. They spent most of today training, and for good reason: the summit is just 118 days away.

Reported by: Liz Flynn, lflynn@wtoc.com

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