Law enforcement officers from local, state and federal agencies are in Aiken this week for a special course on street patrol tactics taught by FBI instructors.
The class, Law Enforcement Training for Street Survival, is taught about 30 times around the country each year, according to Special Agent J. Chadwick of the FBI.
This is the first time in five years the class has been held in South Carolina, and it's the only one that will be held in the state this year.
The class, which is hosted by the Aiken Department of Public Safety and the Aiken County Sheriff's Office, has about 30 students, according to Lt. Jake Mahoney, a spokesman for Aiken Public Safety. Represented in the class are Aiken Public Safety, the Sheriff's Office, the North Augusta Department of Public Safety, the USC Aiken Department of Public Safety, the Lexington Police Department, the S.C. Highway Patrol and local field agents from the FBI.
Topics covered during the four-day course include conducting traffic stops, both with a compliant violator and a noncompliant violator; building clearing; room entry; uses of equipment such as ballistic shields; and advanced firearm training.
“They cover topics that are critical to helping keep patrol officers safe as they perform their duties,” Mahoney said.
Aiken Public Safety had officers from each of its shifts present this week, and those officers will be able to take what they learned back to the rest of the force.
The course comes at no cost to the participants or their agencies, and the FBI provides all the training materials and resources. After a host is selected, they contact surrounding law enforcement agencies and invite them to participate.
Chadwick said the special agent in charge was “very concerned” after Aiken Public Safety lost two of its own in the line of duty barely a month apart. Additionally, having several local lawmen who graduated from the FBI's National Academy, including Chief Charles Barranco and several officers at the Sheriff's Office, made Aiken an even more ideal host, he said.
The smaller agencies obviously benefit from the training, but Chadwick said the FBI also benefits by getting to know and work with those agencies.
“There's only 14,000 FBI agents in the world,” he said. “Clearly, we can't do it by ourselves.”
Chief Kevin Liles of the USC Aiken Department of Public Safety said the local agencies work together frequently, so having them all go through the same training is beneficial.
“If we're working with another department, we're familiar with each other's skills,” he said. “We're on the same sheet of music.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard.