Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division undergo armed intruder response training year-round

Members of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons and Tactics team, or S.W.A.T. team, ran through an armed intruder response training drill at Meraux Elementary School recently. Officers train throughout the year at various locations across the parish, including schools, churches, local businesses including the movie theater, and government buildings such as the parish courthouse and government complex.

Members of the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office Special Operations Division have been undergoing response training for various types of armed intruder situations, Sheriff James Pohlmann said.

While everyone involved hopes these types of circumstances never have to be dealt with in St. Bernard, Sheriff Pohlmann said his department always trains for the possibilities.

“It’s a question of being prepared in advance for what could happen while hoping it doesn’t happen,’’ the Sheriff said. “In today’s environment, it’s the preparation that’s the key.’’

Members of the SOD, which includes the Special Weapons and Tactics team, or S.W.A.T. team, and the Bomb Squad, receive this training year-round at various locations throughout the parish.

Under the direction of Capt. Bobby Norton, the SOD runs through various scenarios of how to best handle armed intruder situations.

“Our goal with this type of on-site training is to familiarize ourselves with the layouts of these buildings to be as prepared as possible should something like this occur,” said Capt. Norton, who is aided by S.W.A.T. assistant commander Capt. Ronnie Martin.

Keeping his team abreast of the latest trends in these types of occurrences is crucial, Capt. Norton said.

“It is imperative to run through these drills often for the safety of the public, and also for our officers who will be sent into these dangerous situations,” he said. “Training in the environments that we will be called out to if the need should arise helps us to know the inner workings of that particular building or business, giving us an advantage over the intruder.”

Members of SOD have trained recently at local schools, businesses including the movie theater and government buildings such as the parish courthouse and government complex.

“It’s good to physically go through a building and do it with repetition, acting out different scenarios, so officers are sure in their reactions and also to better work as a group,” Capt. Norton said.