GPD takes part in hostage rescue training

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 8, 2005

From the viewpoint of a hostage, five men strapped in bulletproof vests rushing onto a hijacked bus with pistols drawn can be a welcome sight.

This week, members of the Greenville Police Department spent four days training for situations just like the one described above. The bus assault was part of T.E.E.S. (Tactical Explosive Entry Training), as police officers received instruction on everything from close quarter tactical shooting to car takedowns and room combat.

Todd Taylor, with T.E.E.S, served as the course instructor. Taylor said T.E.E.S was established in 1991 and operates out of Memphis.

“We provide special operations and hostage rescue training for military and law enforcement around the country and the world,” he said.

The course was contracted and hosted by the Greenville Police Department, but members of other law enforcement agencies - Prattville, Monroeville, for example - were also involved.

On Thursday, five-man teams practiced storming an old school bus at the Greenville Police Department’s firing range under the instruction of Taylor. Hostages were led out single file.

Sgt. Justin Lovvorn said the group of 18 men also received a hands-on look at a flashbang, a grenade that emits a blinding flash and deafening sound, during training in Montgomery this week. When tossed into a room, a flashbang incapacitates a group of suspects, allowing the hostage rescue team a certain element of surprise during a room breach.

“Very loud,” was how Lovvorn described the experience. “We all had a chance to use them later during a live-fire exercise.”

Other training involved a building assault, utilizing the ROTC facility at the old Greenville High School on School Highland’s Rd.

Lt. Randy Courtney said with his department pulling out of the 2nd Judicial Drug Task Force, there was the need to have a tactical unit in place that could serve search warrants in high-risk situations. The teams’ official designation will as the Special Response and High Risk Warrant Team.

“We’ll now have a dedicated team in place to serve those warrants,” said Taylor. “They’ll be professional and more educated in what they’re doing. It’s a win-win situation, is what I think.”

Courtney said the T.E.E.S course was the best available. He said it was a departmental decision to host the training in Greenville.

The reason, he said, is an obvious one.

“A lot of departments send a guy off and get them trained and then that guy will come back and train the rest of the department,” he said. “But I wanted to get as many as our guys as I could through the same training so they’d all be on the same sheet of music, so to speak.”

Jason Pouncey, a paramedic/fireman with the Greenville Fire Department, also attended the training. Lovvorn said Pouncey’s job would be to provide medical assistance in case a team member went down.

“He’s not going to be a front man in the door or anything like that, but he will be, theoretically, sworn in as a reserve officer,” Lovvorn said. “If an officer goes down, we can pull him out and Jason will be right there to help.”