SWAT pre­pares for bank heist

Train­ing ex­er­cise held in New­ton Plaza

The Covington News - - Front page - By Tisa Smart Wash­ing­ton

Sev­eral New­ton County law en­force­ment and emer­gency agen­cies par­tic­i­pated in a mock rob­bery and hostage sit­u­a­tion at Bank of North Ge­or­gia’s New­ton Plaza branch Tues­day. The an­nual train­ing gave pub­lic safety per­son­nel an op­por­tu­nity to test their train­ing in a real-life sce­nario.

“It’s not only good for us to train with other agen­cies within New­ton County work­ing to­gether, it’s also a re­quire­ment for our ac­cred­i­ta­tion,” said Lt. Wen­dell Wagstaff, Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment pub­lic in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer. “We put up the signs that said train­ing in progress so if any­one came by, they would know it’s just a train­ing sce­nario.”

In ad­di­tion to the Cov­ing­ton Po­lice Depart­ment, the New­ton Coun- ty Sher­iff’s Of­fice, Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment, New­ton County EMS and Cov­ing­ton Util­i­ties par­tic­i­pated in the train­ing.

Lt. Wagstaff said the ex­er­cise gave the bank em­ploy­ees a chance to prac­tice their in­ter­nal safety pro­ce­dures as well.

The train­ing be­gan at 7:30 a.m. with 10 bank em­ploy­ees be­ing taken hostage by two rob­bers.

“The bank em­ploy­ees have been made aware that this is a mock bank rob­bery so no one has a heart at­tack or any­thing,” Wagstaff said.

The depart­ment’s hostage ne­go­tia­tors were brought in to rea­son with the rob­bers and the SWAT team, snipers and other of­fi­cers were also de­ployed. About 25 of­fi­cers and 15 pub­lic safety per­son­nel par­tic­i­pated in the ex­er­cise.

Hold your fire:

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Mem­bers of the New­ton County S.W.A.T. team move in on the Bank of North Ge­or­gia lo­cated in New­ton Plaza dur­ing a S.W.A.T. train­ing ses­sion Tues­day morn­ing. The train­ing ex­er­cise in­volved the recre­ation of a bank rob­bery and hostage sit­u­a­tion.

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