MOULTRIE -- The Moultrie Police Department and the Colquitt County Sheriff's Office signed an agreement Tuesday to form a combined Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) Unit Tuesday. This is the first time in the history of Colquitt County a special forces unit has been created between the two police agencies.

Colquitt County Sheriff Al Whittington said the creation of the unit will allow both law enforcement offices to help each other out. Both agencies will now be able to share important resources with each other.

"If one group needs something," Whittington said, "it's now just a phone call away."

Moultrie Police Chief Frank Lang said combining the two agencies in a unit like this allows each to share their knowledge and experience. This gives both organizations an advantage neither previously had.

Representatives from both the police department and sheriff's department trained together with assistance from the FBI, Whittington said. It makes for "higher standards" for any officer who would like to try and join the S.W.A.T. unit.

Lang said the unit will respond to any type of emergency situation that may arise within the county. A primary example of these "special operations" would be initiating a high-risk search warrant. Whittington said it will be used as a show of force against any situation and to increase the manpower of officers already on scene.

The agreement signed will be in effect for only five years, but Lang said he hopes the agreement will get renewed when it expires in 2009. The unit provides an opportunity for both agencies to work closer together, he said, and both of the agencies need the support of the other.

"We can get so much more done by working together," Lang said.

Several officers and the chief from the Moultrie Police Department have already been deputized by the sheriff's office, and Lang said that gives him and his officers statewide jurisdiction. The increased jurisdiction provides officers with "more leverage" in law enforcement tactics, he said.

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