By Frank Lewis
The employees at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) pride themselves in the security they have always brought to the community, but one of the reasons is their preparedness. That means training for something they hope will never happen. Over a three-day period this week the SOCF Special Response Team along with members of the Portsmouth Police Department and the Pike County Sheriff’s Office went through tracking training.
“This is a tactical tracking training,” SOCF Warden Ron Erdos said. “We’re training folks to respond to things where we may have to track individuals. For various reasons we oftentimes get called from the community to help with missing persons in different areas.”
Erdos said one of the things the Special Response Team is responsible for is what is referred to in the prison system as a critical incident, which would include an escape.
“The Special Response Team is who we use in these incidents to respond to this, so we want to provide them the best training we can and give them the best tools necessary in the event that something like that would occur – hopefully it never will – but you have to be prepared for those things.”
Erdos said on Wednesday the team conducted urban tracking, and Thursday concentrated on an area along the Ohio River. It was in an area covered in dirt with multiple footprints where team members had to identify the most recent tracks and to follow them.
“There are different disciplines to tracking,” Erdos said. “You have tracking in urban areas. You have tracking in these rural areas through dense foliage. This is teaching folks how to track people and look for the signs that they need to look for as they are trying to apprehend folks or trying to find people who are missing. That’s what this entire class is about.”
Erdos said there is a focus in the training event.
“What we hope to gain when it’s all over is these folks will be better prepared today in the event that they were needed to do tactical tracking of an individual than they were prior to completing this training,” Erdos said.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.