A contingency of officers from the local Georgia State Patrol post had a part in keeping the peace during the recent G8 Summit held at Sea Island.
Troopers Mark Cabe and Mike Callaway and Thomson Post 25 Commander Sgt. First Class Scott Johnson stated they were not at the actual summit, but close by.
Thomson Post 25 Trooper Mike Callaway (from left), Trooper Mark Cabe, and Sgt. First Class Scott Johnson recently worked the G-8 Summit on Georgia's coast.
"We were on River Street in Savannah, close to 50 miles from the G8 site. We worked to keep protestors within the law," Trooper Cabe said. "We didn't want things to get out of hand. We were there to protect and serve."
The key themes of the summit, held June 8-10, were to reform the Middle East and rescue Africa and the officers' key responsibility was to protect attendees, property and rights of those in the area, including close to 3,000 journalists on hand to document the summit's events. While the area is usually sleepy southern, early June saw close to 10,000 security officers in place. Some were aboard helicopters, humvees and boats.
One of the mobile field force commanders for G8, Sgt. Johnson, said the dispatch of close to 10 troopers from the Thomson post did two main things.
"There are many who thought we were there just to keep the protesters away from the summit," said the leader of the 70-officer battalion. "That's not the whole truth. The field forces, No. 1, protected the venue and the delegates. But we also had the responsibility to insure the protestors had the right to free speech. They had that right and we were there to help them keep that right."
The local officers were called on twice to monitor the crowd of protestors.
"There was no physical confrontation," said Trooper Cabe. "In our instances, there was no damage to property or physical force from us or the protestors."
To prepare for G8 duty, the troopers spent close to two weeks in intensified training. Trooper Callaway said while he had been sent to a detail a few weeks before responding to G8, he said he expected problems at the summit.
"A major at the previous detail said we had it easy, but not to expect the G8 assignment to be as easy. So I expected trouble, but there was none. It was a relief," said the trooper.
When the officers were not working their 12-hour shifts, they were on call.
"We staged up and stayed alert. We were ready when needed," Trooper Callaway said, adding he used some of the time to visit with acquaintances.
"I got to see alot of people I hadn't seen for awhile. With all the law enforcement divisions there, there were many friends I got to catch up with," he said.
All three officers said their families were worried about the imminent danger of what could happen.
"I have a wife and a 16-month-old and I sure didn't want to leave my little son," said Trooper Callaway, "but I had to pick up and go. I was confident in the training of myself and my comrades."
Sgt. Johnson assured the post's coverage area was properly staffed during the summit.
"We made sure there were experienced officers on duty here as well as on duty in Savannah. The protection of this area was not compromised," said the sergeant.
Sgt. Johnson said some overtime, which the officers incurred during their mission, will be covered by the government.
"They had to work some overtime," he said. "A certain portion of that will be overtime pay covered by the Department of Homeland Security and the rest will be comp time they can use later."
Sgt. Johnson said he was proud at how smoothly the event went.
"All the departments worked well together. There was no internal squabbling. Everybody came together for the common goal of making Georgia's appearance on the world stage top-notch. Georgia law enforcement made the most of its time to shine during our time onstage."
The G8 Summit brought together the leaders of the world's major industrial democracies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union also attended the summit.