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ATF takes local officers to school

Senior Special Agent Michael Dixon provided training for officers from Butler, Crenshaw and Lowndes Counties on Aug. 22. (Advocate Staff/Patty Vaughan)

Students across Alabama are not the only ones going to back to school.

About 40 officers in the tri-county went through an education and training session on Aug. 22 at the Greenville Police Department that was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods Training.

Officers from the Greenville Police Department, Georgiana Police Department, Fort Deposit Police Department, Luverne Police Department, the Butler County Sheriff’s Office, the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama Pardon and Paroles and the Alabama Department of Fish and Wildlife participated in the training.

The program, which circulates nationally and internationally, works with local, state and federal officers to help train in a variety of topics.

Three of the topics area officers studied were firearm identification, interviewing and investigating hidden compartments.

There to help with the training was Senior Special Agent Michael Dixon with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

“Firearms identification is where we try to teach state, local and federal law enforcement officers the proper way to be able to identify a firearm,” Dixon said. “That’s important because when you have a crime that’s committed, being able to trace that gun and determine where it came from and who purchased it, can be very, very important as far as solving an investigation or solving your case.”

The officers also received training in how to better identify suspects, witnesses or victims in the interviewing process to gain the right information to help in a variety of cases.

The Virginia State Police also took time to teach officers how to look for hidden compartments in vehicles.

“Some suspects are moving large quantities of drugs, contraband or money and even sometimes guns,” Dixon said. “It helps them to not just make the vehicle stop, but they might be able to find that compartment where everything is hidden.”

The primary purpose and goal of ATF is to help not only provide assistance to local law enforcement in criminal investigations, but also provide education and training.

“Crime is not just a local thing,” Dixon said. “It’s not just a city thing. Crime is a worldwide thing. It’s important for us to team up and work with our local law enforcement partners, our county partners and our state partners in an effort to prevent violent crime. Just because we’re federal (officers), it makes no difference. We are still brothers in law enforcement, and it’s important for us to try and help each other.”

Greenville Police Department Chief Lonzo Ingram said he hopes to have more training in the future with the new police department facility.

“We love (the training), because it’s excellent for us,” Ingram said. “We have this facility now to have this type of training. We certainly will be doing more of it.”