The Richmond Hill Police Department’s S.O.R.T. (Special Operations Support Team) was called into action earlier this month for the first time since it was instituted. The unit peacefully resolved a hostage situation on Vining Way in the Turtle Hill subdivision.
RHPD S.O.R.T. is the RHPD’s version of S.W.A.T., which includes seven certified members from the RHPD roster and various specialized equipment. The unit has been in existence for several years, but this incident was the very first time they were called out.
Here’s what happened according to the RHPD incident report: On the afternoon of April 18, police were alerted to the aforementioned address with reports that resident Lisa Davis was threatening to kill her husband and herself while armed with at least two firearms.
It was soon established that the woman was home alone but heavily armed. Davis also allegedly made telephone death threats to a Hinesville woman, whom she accused of having an affair with her husband.
A perimeter was formed around the residence by unit members, followed by RHPD Chief Billy Reynolds phoning the residence and briefly speaking to Davis before she hung up on him.
Lt. Mike Albritton, who specializes in hostage negotiation, got her to start a conversation and assisted in arranging a meeting between Davis and her daughter. He also convinced her to toss the firearms out the door.
Once that happened, the unit moved in and apprehended Davis, who was taken to Memorial Hospital for a psychological evaluation.
This first official response of the S.O.R.T. team did not fully utilize all the capabilities the unit can offer, but unit commander and RHPD Sgt. Jason Sakelarios said the unit is more than ready to resolve any highly volatile incidents that may occur in the future.
He said the unit members are each required to attend SWAT training in Forsyth in addition to monthly training in Richmond Hill. The unit is equipped with an armored truck and specialized weapons and equipment to deal with an escalated situation.
"Hopefully we’ll never have to put S.O.R.T. into action," Sakelarios said. "We don’t want to have to go inside a building and get someone by force or something else of that magnitude. But it’s good peace of mind to know that we’re ready for it."