Despite Saturday’s gloomy weather, Bartow County Sheriff’s Office’s Search and Recovery Team spent a day getting personal, bonding during a family outing at Holiday Harbor Marina in Acworth.
The SAR group gathers the last Saturday of each month for training, but the team’s BCSO liaison Lt. Robert Moultrie decided to mark two years with a little something different.
“I’m thankful that there are people like this in the community that are willing to serve not just talk about it, give it lip service, especially nowadays with the way law enforcement is taking a bad rap in the media and the current executive administration,” he said. “… It could be one of their family members that are lost out in the woods or lost at the lake.”
Founded in October 2013, the volunteer organization is composed of community members from all walks of life.
Moultrie said the 40 members currently on the roster include a nuclear physicist, business owners and EMTs.
“We have a group that comes with a wide variety of characters and talent,” he said. “… We don’t turn anyone away because everybody has something to offer. They do have to have a basic outdoors, want-to-be-outdoors type.”
To be part of the SAR team, volunteers must be full-time Georgia residents, possess a valid Georgia driver’s license and submit to a background investigation and criminal record check.
Available on an on-call basis, the team meets monthly for training that includes land navigation, first aid, search and rescue procedures, wilderness survival, firearms safety and other relevant topics.
“I think it gives a different spin on the sheriff’s office, in that we are out there to help them. These men and women that are coming down and giving their time each month, they are out there to serve their fellow citizens because they care enough to do it,” Moultrie said.
A search and recovery operation was in place when Moultrie arrived at the sheriff’s office in the early 1990s, albeit in an “on paper” format only. Then, in the spring of 2013, a young man went missing in Kingston, requiring an extensive search before the man’s body was recovered from the Etowah River. During that operation, Floyd County’s search and recovery team was utilized.
“I watched how they operated and how they did things, and thought, ‘You know, we need to have something like that … because it’s our job, it’s our responsibility.’ We can’t rely on other agencies to come in and help us because they are doing their thing,” Moultrie said.
Since then, the SAR team has assisted in numerous searches, including Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.
“It happens more often than people realize, so having a plan in place to rapidly deploy to those areas and contain it, and then initiate a ground search, which is the most thorough way to do anything, looking for evidence is beneficial,” Moultrie said.
Because of limited funding, the SAR team also is seeking donations, raising “a couple thousand dollars” earlier this month in Acworth.
“We are slowly but surely building our inventory of equipment. A lot of the people are bringing their own; some of them are making personal purchases,” Moultrie said.
All donations are tax deductible.
For more information on volunteering or donating to the SAR team, visit www.bartowsar.org.