OXFORD, AL—About 400 law enforcement officers from northeast Alabama and northwest Georgia will attend safety training on Thursday in Oxford to better prepare them for potential encounters with domestic extremists, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, FBI Special Agent in Charge Richard D. Schwein Jr., and Oxford Police Chief Bill Partridge.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the Oxford Police Department will present the training at the Oxford Performing Arts Center. The training is designed to give local, state and federal law enforcement officers and government security personnel survival skills and best practice tips in case they do encounter domestic extremists, such as members of the Sovereign Citizen Movement or militia groups. The training also will address deadly force survival and weapons of mass destruction.
“Law enforcement officers must, first, protect themselves in order to protect the communities they serve,” Vance said. “The goal of this training is for each participant to gain a greater appreciation of the potential threats associated with domestic extremism and how best to protect himself or herself if ever confronted with such a situation,” she said.
“As sovereign citizens’ numbers grow, so do the chances of contact with law enforcement and, thus, the risks that incidents will end in violence,” Schwein said. “Law enforcement must understand the sovereign-citizen movement, be able to identify indicators, and know how to protect themselves from the group’s threatening tactics and techniques,” he said.
“Under pressure, you don’t rise to the occasion; you sink to the level of your training. You react the way you’re trained,” Partridge said. “Train hard and train often, your life depends on it.”
The afternoon session of the daylong training will be a study of the Aug. 5, 2012, mass shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis., in which a white supremacist shot and killed six temple worshippers. The gunman, a U.S. Army veteran, also wounded three other worshippers and the first officer on the scene, who was struck with 12 bullets. The shooter killed himself with a shot to the head after another police officer shot him in the stomach.