SWAT training affects local shopping center

Published 1:48 am Sunday, November 8, 2009

Tear gas that was part of a training exercise by the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department affected some people who were at the Claiborne Hill Shopping center and in the surrounding area.

Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said the Sheriff’s Department asked to use the fire department’s training building, that is used for firefighter training, but the fire department was not involved in the Sheriff Department’s training. The training building is located behind the Claiborne Hill shopping center.

Sheriff David Allison said the incident occurred Thursday afternoon as trainees were participating in a SWAT training exercise using a type of tear gas. Chief Deputy Shane Tucker said the chemical is called CS, and said it is a harmless gas, especially in small doses.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Deputies and Investigators with the Sheriff’s Department were subjected to large doses of the gas as part of their SWAT training. The gas was set off in the burn building at the fire department and the trainees were required to enter the gas-filled building and conduct certain tasks in order to pass the test.

Tucker said the gas is neither lethal nor harmful.

Brown said the weather conditions might have caused the gas to linger close to the ground and subject the public in the surrounding area to its effects. People at Claiborne Hill and at the nearby bank reportedly were affected.

Tucker said while the gas is not harmful, future training sessions will be held in more rural locations to better ensure the public won’t be affected.

“We don’t want to cause any discomfort to the citizens,” Allison said.

Tucker said the Picayune Fire Department was not at fault for the incident and he appreciated the department allowing the Sheriff’s Department to use the facility for the training.