N.C. Department of Correction--Correction News--May 1998

Sort Becomes Elite Sharpshooting Team

Lillington — Pulled from the department's Prison Emergency Response Team, 11 men train monthly for the day that no one hopes ever happens: the day an offender takes a hostage.

"In a hostage situation or any prison emergency, preservation of life is primary," George Solomon, assistant chief of security said recently on the firing range at Harnett Correctional Institution. "The use of lethal force is always a last resort."

The 11 members of the Special Operations Response Team have been training under a former Green Beret and international hostage negotiator for the past two and a half years. SORT was activated one year ago, and is ready to respond whenever called upon.

During the most recent training exercise, a mock building with a window was set up.

To emphasize the confidence he has in the team, the instructor sat in a chair squeezed between two targets. From 87 yards away, snipers fired live ammunition through the window at the targets, hitting the mark with astonishing accuracy.

The group has two fully automatic sub-machine guns and several sniper rifles along with semi-automatic pistols.

In April, the group scored 95 percent with the pistols, and 95 percent with the sub-machine guns.

Harnett Prison Superintendent Martin McDade told how SORT member Jimmy Currin shot eggs off the branches of trees from 87 yards away.

"I have total confidence in this group," McDade said.

In addition to responding to a prison crisis, SORT members can be used in probationer or parolee incidents where the Department of Correction has more jurisdiction than local law enforcement.

The 11 team members have no rank while participating in SORT, other than having a team leader, George Solomon. In their regular jobs the men range from correctional officers to assistant superintendents.

Like PERT, SORT is a tool that the Division of Prisons uses in responding to prison emergencies.

Unlike PERT which has a division-wide organization, SORT is limited to a single team, which operates as an extension of the chief of security's office.u

NC DOC Correction News- May 1998
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