North Metro SWAT trains for hostage situations

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

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PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - Channel 2 Action News got a firsthand look at how one area SWAT team prepares for dangerous situations.

The North Metro SWAT team is comprised of officers from the Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Dunwoody and, most recently, Brookhaven police departments.

“We have about 30 SWAT operators and 20-plus support personnel,” Deputy Commander David Huffschmidt told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.  “You have to be an officer who has proven yourself in your regular-duty job.  You have to have a clean disciplinary record.”

Huffschmidt said the team consists of hostage negotiators as well as medics.

The team trains at least twice a month at a range in Paulding County.  Petchenik and photographer Matt Serafin tagged along Thursday to see them train on several different drills.

“We respond to several different high-risk situations,” said Huffschmidt.  “Hostage situations, barricaded gunmen, as well as warrant services.”

In one drill, the team suited up in their gear and responded to a simulated injured hostage.  With guns drawn, the crew huddled together behind shields to rescue the “hostage.”  Teams also perfected their aim on targets while out on the range.

The team continued their training by practicing serving a search warrant inside of a mock house.  The house is made entirely out of sand-filled tires and includes rooms in which SWAT officers searched for a suspect and a hostage.

“We do team together and come up with a tactical plan,” said Huffschmidt.  “That’s always our goal.  We attempt to negotiate prior to doing any type of tactical intervention and we definitely want everyone to be safe.”

Huffschmidt said the SWAT operators are usually called out between five to 10 times per year.