CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The Special Operations Group at the Al Cannon Detention Center is going through some high level training this week thanks to a government based agency.
The U.S. Corrections Special Operations Group (US C-SOG), based out of Virginia, is considered the "gold standard in the corrections special operations community."
For several years Charleston County was the only center in the state to go through, and hold, this kind of high level and fast paced training. In the last few years Spartanburg has also joined in learning some of these techniques.
However US C-SOG considers Al Cannon to be the "lighthouse" in the southeast region when it comes to corrections.
"They're program is very unorthodox," Captain Joseph Garcia, Senior Team Leader with US C-SOG, said Thursday. "It's 21st century. Since 2008 they've been leading the way and a lot of agencies have come here to study tactics in the progressive tactics that they provide here."
Garcia said many agencies may train just once, and then be done.
What makes Al Cannon a leader across the country is the training they do every three months.
"It keeps them abreast of seeing the situations or seeing different situations that will pop up, so it keeps them current," Garcia said.
During training the team has walked through tactical situations like inmates attacking others, to more standard protocols like figuring out the best way to interact with inmates. It also gives officers the chance to learn how to handle their equipment better in certain situations.
"We have a less than lethal shotgun, with KSG content," Operator Elijah McPherson, an Instructor with the Al Cannon SOG, said. "It has 15 rounds, but it's non-lethal force."
SOG also carries around a Taser and OC spray at all times. They don't use excessive force unless it's an absolute last resort.
Additionally, having the SOG get involved in certain circumstances requires protocol.
"The officers would talk to the inmate first, then if the officer cannot get the inmate to do something then the officer will call the sergeant who will then call us," McPherson said.
"When something does happen, it's minimal impact to the rest of the facility, the rest of the officers, and the community," Garcia said. "That's really a win, win situation for everybody."
The programs and training at Al Cannon focus on protecting the officers, and inmates, as well as the community.
SOG realizes that some of these inmates will eventually be back on the streets, and they want to try to prevent them from returning in the future.
In the past ten months there have been several disturbances at jails and prisons around South Carolina, which may have required SOG to get involved.
Some major ones happened at Lee Correctional Facility in Lee County, another at Lieber in Ridgeville, and at the Alvin Glenn Detention Center in Columbia.
In February, SLED was called in investigate several inmates who attacked officers at the Lee Correctional Institution. The prison was on lock down for several hours.
Meanwhile, last July, three officers and two inmates were injured during a "disturbance" at the Lieber Correctional Institution, which forced the prison to go on lock down.
A month before, inmates assaulted one another at the Alvin Glenn Detention Center when one of them reportedly decided to back out of a gang.
For more information on the U.S. Corrections Special Operations Group click here.