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Guards get riot training

By By Robbie Byrd, News Editor
Following suggestions by state corrections officials that a riot was likely following the transfer of over 1,000 inmates from county jails to state prisons, the Alabama Department of Corrections has been hard at work to prepare for such a scenario.
Nearly 20 officers from corrections facilities throughout the six "regions" in the state recently attended a retreat in West Virginia that served as both a showcase for new technology in the corrections field, but also a training camp for such scenarios as a riot.
The West Virginia State Penitentiary housed the "mock riots," as a part of the 6th annual convention held by the Office of Law Enforcement Technology Commercialization.
Deputy Commissioner Greg Lovelace and Holman and Fountain Correction Centers' warden Grantt Culliver, the Alabama Corrections Emergency Response Team Coordinator, accompanied 20 Alabama CERT members from six regions across the state to the West Virginia prison complex.
The CERT program, ranked third in the nation at a recent competition, is overseeing continued training for riot control in state prisons.
Culliver said that his corrections officers participated in several scenarios he recommended to the OLETC. As well, he said that his officers enjoyed the technology showcase offered at the program as well.
College students and volunteers are used as inmates to recreate disturbances in the cafeteria and chapel, along with full riots in the South Hall and low light riot scenarios in the prison basement.
It is during these situations that officers are able to receive feedback and test the new technologies to which they have been introduced.
Culliver said that the CERT team is continuing training and exercises they learned at the convention, meeting twice monthly for exercises involving safe riot and crowd control.
New CERT assignments
Warden Culliver is making CERT team reassignments for the state. Captain David Martinie with the Fountain Correctional Center will reassume control of the Southern squad. Captain Jeffery Knox with the Easterling Correctional Center will assume control of the South Central region. Captain Derrick Carter has relocated to the Decatur Correctional Center and will assume leadership duties of the Northern squad. The newest team is in the western part of Alabama and will be led by Captain Richard Carter, Bibb Correction Center.
Lt. Fredrick Freeman, Bibb CF, will assume command of the North Central team. Captain George Edwards is in control of the Central team, the squad currently holding the Commissioner's Cup for excellence.