Officers gather in Augusta for anti-terrorism training

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- From hospitality house to training center, officers from all over the state gathered at the Azalea House to hone their skills.

"This is state and local anti-terrorism training," said Edward Tarver, U.S. Attorney for Southern District of Georgia.

It's a threat that became all too real after the infamous terrorist act on 9/11 in 2001, but after yesterday's deadly shooting in the Washington Navy Yard, Tarver says the definition of "terrorism" is changing.

"Many of us when we hear the term terrorism, we think of 9/11. We think of someone coming from outside the country to do harm to Americans in the country, but in reality there's a bigger threat from folks who are here," according to Tarver, making perhaps the biggest threat someone on our own American soil.

"It's not necessarily someone with Al Qaeda. It could be a domestic terrorist, someone who was born and raised in Georgia and someone who maybe sat next to you in high school," Tarver explained.

In yesterday's case, it was a former reservist who opened fire in the Navy Yard killing 12 people. Tarver says when it comes to why officers need anti-terror training, the scene there yesterday says it all.

"You may not have time to call the FBI or federal authorities, so initially the first people to respond are the ones who are going to prevent any more harm from occuring," he said.

Tarver says the first skill is identification. That includes controlling the scene to contain the violence. It's a skill the officers will learn today to help prevent a tragedy tomorrow.

"It's a serious subject and a serious event and by teaching our first responders the tactics necessary to make sure they can assess the situation, we can make sure we're all safer," Tarver said.

Today's training was hosted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance and the U.S. Attorney's Office, and it was completely free to the officers who came. Tarver says one of the best things about the training was that it made important information available to Sheriff's offices and police departments that wouldn't normally get it.

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