By Linda Looney-Bond
While Clayton State University students are away this week on spring break, the university's police force will train with SWAT team members from the Clayton County Police Department.
"We try to do some training with the Clayton County SWAT team at least every couple years to keep our officers familiar with incident response," said Clayton State Police Chief Bobby Hamil. "We picked this time because it's spring break, so it would be minimally disruptive on campus."
All 11 Clayton State police officers, along with the police chief, and deputy chief, will participate today in an "active shooter" training session, according to Hamil. He said the training prepares officers to respond in the event a gunman is on campus.
Hamil said the training session is not in response to an incident Jan. 14, in which the university was placed on lockdown. At least two students had reported seeing a man that day who appeared to be carrying a silver handgun while walking away from the university center toward Clayton State Boulevard.
"We had already reached out to the SWAT team to set up a date [for the training]...and were already shooting for spring break," Hamil said.
Hamil called the January incident "an unconfirmed report" of an armed gunman. "We never got anymore leads," he said.
Today's session will include classroom training in the university's Lecture Hall as well as practical exercises using SWAT equipment and weapons in the Business and Health Sciences Building, according to Director of University Relations John Shiffert.
"We won't be using any live fire," said Hamil. He said the training is mainly strategic, and prepares university police and SWAT team members to practice working together in the event of an emergency.
"Training with them gives us a better opportunity to observe their tactics, plus they're going to rely on us for intelligence [such as] building layout, from officers who patrol the buildings regularly," Hamil said.
Hamil said the university tests its emergency alert system monthly. The system includes outdoor sirens, e-mail and text messages to all students, staff, and faculty, as well as a landline telephone system which displays messages and sends a computerized audio alert to all campus landline telephones.
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Clayton State University: www.clayton.edu