Mantracker brings army of law enforcement officers to Coweta
By JOHN A. WINTERS
Dear Criminals: This would be a great week to try something different.
By different I don't mean switching from stealing cars to dealing dope. What I do mean is something 'non-criminalish.'
Better yet, why not go help out at one of the several shelters, food banks, or other community service organizations that always need an extra hand.
Do something positive. Do something for someone else without expecting any payback. I know, a weird concept.
But trust me on this, because this is just not a good week to be all criminally and such. You'll find more information below, but honestly, take a break.
A Concerned Citizen.
It's time for Mantracker 2012, and more than 500 law enforcement off icials are expected in Coweta County this week. The three-day event focuses on continuing education and training for public safety personnel - both in the classroom and out in the field. Most of those attending will be from Georgia, but officers from Alabama and Tennessee also are expected.
"We look forward to Mantracker every year," said Coweta County Sheriff Mike Yeager. "It has proven to be very informative and really gotten popular over time."
The event started as a training program for the Department of Corrections Fugitive Unit, which used dogs to track down fugitives and escapees. As budget cuts hit the state, the Coweta County Sheriff's Office got involved and eventually took over the program. And what started with only a handful of canine teams has now expanded into a wide-assortment of training opportunities.
In fact, the canine portion now only makes up about onefifth of the program, according to Sgt. Andy Briggs, who is with the sheriff's office and one of the organizers. This year, about 40 canine teams are expected: half involved in patrol - hunting for fugitives, the other half in explosives and drug detection.
Attendees can select among several classroom and field courses. Among those include firearms training, computer forensics, social networking, canine training, 911 communications, cellular phone investigations, search and seizure, temporary protective orders, high-risk search warrants, building clearing, responding to meth labs, and several others.
More information, including all the classes offered, is available at http://mantrackertraining. org .
"It's just like a buffet," Briggs said. "They can choose what they want to do."
There's a big emphasis on tactical training, and residents shouldn't be surprised to see lots of officers swarming specific locations as part of a training exercise.
"The scenario will present a felony crime in progress, with a look-out placed on the suspects, and then some type of foot pursuit when officers encounter the suspects," states one description about perimeter security. "Available assets will be employed in an effort to apprehend the suspects. This includes the deployment of and coordination with canine and air assets as well as the deployment of Strike Teams in the search area."
The goal, according to Briggs, "is to show participants how to do the job and how to do it in a safe way."
Yeager said one attendee from Alabama a while back left after the last session on Thursday and was at work on Friday.
"There was an armed robbery, a chase and then a shootout with the suspect," the sheriff said. "The officer said the Mantracker training helped save his life because he put the training he got into practice.
"This is realistic training, as realistic as it will be on the streets," Yeager added.
An increasingly important training component involves classes on computers, cell phones and the Internet. Various courses will cover everything from finding sources and evidence on social sites like Facebook (and learning how to not get fired for posting inappropriate content) to learning how to retrieve information off computer hard drives and cellphones.
Yeager said his staff has mandatory training on the proper - and improper - use of social media sites.
"We are seeing more and more law enforcement officers getting their rear ends in trouble on social networking sites," the sheriff said.
There are also three tiers of computer forensics training available - from beginners to advanced. And Google has even signed on as a big sponsor.
The main complex will be at the Coweta County Fairgrounds south of Newnan. Other venues include the old Howard Warner School on Savannah Street in Newnan, the old Newnan Hospital on Jackson Street, Newnan-Coweta Airport, Newnan-Coweta Public Safety Training Center, Newnan Utilities Cabin off Roscoe Road and the Newnan-Coweta Firearms Range.
Because of financial and facility donations from the community, as well as by using public buildings, there is no cost for participants who preregister. The event runs from Tuesday to Thursday.