In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, the Abbeville/Henry County SWAT team is going around to each school in the county. Studying the layout and making sure it is fully aware of everything inside the school’s walls.
Sgt. Eric Duhaime said, “We call it the START team….stands for special tactics and response team…It’s a full scale SWAT unit if you will…It started with the Abbeville police department.”
Lt. Noel Vanlandingham said, “I got my best group of guys, best tactical group of guys, and started it from there.”
Duhaime said, “And then the Henry County Sheriff’s Office came on and we combined it to make a full county wide team.”
Vanlandingham said, “We started off with about 4 and now we have 15 from two different agencies.”
Duhaime said, “You have a full scale tactical unit that can respond to crisis situations, emergencies….Something that the standard patrol response on a day to day basis is not equipped or trained to handle…It is not just a large town issue anymore. These things are coming to small town areas as is evident from Sandy Hook.”
Vanlandingham said,“You go into high risk situations…You have to trust each other a little bit more…And you know what the other guy is going to do before he does it most of the time.”
Duhaime said, “They actually have very good law enforcement in Henry County…I think they can have confidence in their law enforcement response, especially a team like the START team.”
Vanlandingham said, “I would put this group up against any team in the state or nation.”
Duhaime said, “We just enjoy doing this it is a passion for us.”
The team insists on training every other week, making sure they are any moment.
The START team played an active role in the Midland City hostage situation and they are called in nearly 25 times every year.