Clinton County’s Special Operations Response Team (S.O.R.T.) was called twice last week for domestic cases and both ended without anyone getting hurt or killed.
Monday, September 2, Rick Riddle went to the home of Ricky Whitley, 36, in Craft Acres Subdivision after a complaint was made.
Riddle went to the residence to check on Whitley and ended up trying to talk Whitley down when he (Whitley) grabbed a rifle and pointed it at him.
“That’s when I backed out and called for backup,” Riddle said. Riddle called S.O.R.T. and the Kentucky State Police for assistance.
After nearly a two-hour standoff, police were able to subdue Whitley with a taser. Whitley was arrested on charges of Wanton Endangerment, terrorist threating and menacing.
“The training does kick in and the outcome was good,” Riddle said.
After the arrest, Whitley was lodged in Clinton County Jail, then transported to Russell County Jail.
Friday, September 6, dispatch was called and S.O.R.T. was on scene of yet another domestic case involving a barricaded suspect who was identified as Joe Coop according to the Albany Police Department.
“Dispatch called requesting officer assistance on Harper Lane and there was a possible barricaded suspect,” Albany Police Officer and S.O.R.T. member Ricky Marcum said. “I got in route to that location and requested other units to come out and help.”
Marcum said the team cleared the mobile home and received information that the suspect had moved on foot to a nearby trailer park in South Albany, below Albany Redi-Mix.
After police moved to the trailer park, Marcum said he had been at trailer 17, but wasn’t there when they arrived.
“At that point he fled on foot into a wooded area and at that time other units were on scene and began searching the area,” Marcum said. “We were looking for a white male, long black hair, blue jeans and boots armed with a handgun.”
Marcum said Coop is facing charges of terroristic threating and unlawful imprisonment. “He also has other pending indictment warrants as well,” Marcum said.
The search ended without the apprehension of Coop and the investigation is still ongoing.
During the search for the suspect, as a safety precaution, several locations in Albany went into “lock-down” mode, including all of the schools and banking facilities.
“We’ve had numerous armed individuals that required more officers and a tactical team,” Marcum said. “The event Monday, we originally had it neutralized other than the probe of the taser didn’t take. We deployed a three-man team up to the building where Mr. Whitley was and I had shot the guy with a tazer, hitting him in the side and the back.”
Marcum said Monday’s event was a little more serious mainly because of the immediate threat with a firearm on the scene.
“We had eyes on him and he was definitely armed with a 30-30 rifle and a 45 caliber weapon. Coop’s incident came in as a barricade and ended with a fleeing suspect who was armed,” Marcum said. “If you don’t have that kind of training, it makes situations like that intense and frustrating. You have to go in and take control of the scene and you have to let the other officers know you have a plan.”
Marcum and the S.O.R.T. team has been training for some time on different situations that might come up, including what happened this week.
Marcum is a trained and certified S.W.A.T instructor and a firearms instructor and he has been teaching officers in the county in order to make them better prepared.
“The community has to know that you are able to deal with critical situations and we did,” Marcum said. “The training has definitely been a plus. We have acquired a lot of new equipment recently. All of the guys train hard and it’s been a great tool for the agencies.”
Marcum said, in an earlier interview involving S.O.R.T., there wasn’t a team within miles of Albany, which is one of the reasons a team was assembled. He said it cuts down on the response time.
“The KSP work hard and they have a lot of great guys and we work well with them, but a lot of times we don’t have the time to wait for their arrival, so having five or six guys with the training and mind set to go immediately and deal with it … it’s awesome,” Marcum said. “The KSP gave us full support and we handled it.”
During the incident Monday, Marcum was thankful the outcome was positive.
“It was a great outcome. Less lethal tactics were used, we had good communications skills between officers and that made it successful,” Marcum said. “Nobody died and sometimes that happens, but we don’t want that to happen, but in the event those critical situations arise, we have guys with the training to handle it. We train in various situations … it’s really good. It’s a very positive thing for the community.”
Marcum said all the training involved to assemble the S.O.R.T. is volunteer work and he is happy the Albany Police Department and the sheriff’s office can provide that level of protection to the city and county.