PICKENS COUNTY – Local law enforcement from across the Upstate joined forces Tuesday afternoon in an effort to hone skills and improve communication.
Agencies from Pickens County, Greenville County, Anderson County, Spartanburg County, Oconee County and Laurens County gathered to participate in Upstate Shield, an annual program designed to give officers training in emergency response scenarios.
“Upstate Shield brings all the emergency response teams together,” Pickens County Sheriff Rick Clark said. “It provides both hands on and classroom training, but most importantly, it lets us assess our different agencies’ needs and abilities throughout the Upstate.”
Event officials say Upstate Shield was created to facilitate good working relationships and enhance response to critical incidents in the Upstate.
“They try to come up with everything you can think of. Everything a SWAT team may face,” Clark said. “They will practice hostage or barricade scenarios in the setting of buses, homes and businesses. They will also have scenarios for the hostage negotiators to work with as well. That gives them a chance to try to bring scenarios to a peaceful end.”
Tuesday, agencies such as Clemson Police, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office, the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, Easley Police and Anderson Police ran through different scenarios and were assessed by officials on scene.
Members of the Easley PD performed a SWAT operation in which they had to retrieve hostages from a horse stable on site at Clemson’s T. Ed Garrison Arena. Easley’s team waited for a negotiation to take place, before swarming the building in pursuit of the “suspect.”
“A lot of these scenarios stem from real life events that may have happened to other departments,” Clark said. “This gives us a chance to go through the steps under a less stressful situation. We try to make it as real as possible.”
Clark said this is a way for agencies to get a feel for one another before being put in an emergency situation.
“The more you work together, the easier things become when you have an emergency situation,” Clark said. “Learning the traits, habits and abilities of others really makes it easy to make assignments a do what needs to be done during a real event.”