AIKEN - During the past two days, 13 officers from around the state and one visitor from South America have taken aim at the bad guys with technical training provided by the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.
Sgt. Darren Norris, a member of the county's SWAT team, guided the officers through classroom education on weapons and live-fire exercises at the agency's firing range off Wire Road.
On Wednesday, the officers worked in pairs as they simulated attacking a group of belligerents - one officer taking the lead and the other raising his gun on a target to the side.
Each officer carried a variation of the M-16, many with high-tech optical scopes that allow them to shoot with both eyes open.
As part of an exchange program, the second in command of a Brazilian SWAT team learned alongside officers from Rock Hill, S.C.; Clemson, S.C.; Fort Gordon; and North Augusta.
Capt. Cieciro Henrique B. Lopes, of the Grupos De Acoes Tacticas Especials, worked with Sgt. Norris on the sergeant's trip to Brazil last year. The team was so impressed with the training Sgt. Norris offered that they sent the captain to Aiken for more.
Capt. Lopes, speaking through Sgt. Norris' translation of his Portuguese, said he has been a member of the 87-member Brazilian SWAT team for 10 years and doesn't see much difference between the two countries' police work.
The students in Sgt. Norris' class fired at posters of men holding guns to the heads of children and men leaning out of cars.
Sgt. Norris said that, although officers might not have to use the training every day, the skills need to be consistently honed.
"For me, it's new. I've been in police work for 19 years, and this is the first time I've ever gotten this type of training," said Lt. Verne Sadler of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety. "I can file it in the back of my mind and have it when I need it."
Reach Matthew Boedy at (803) 648-1395 or firstname.lastname@example.org.