Martin County Sheriff William Snyder describes lessons learned by law enforcement in Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - They were part of a successful plan to prevent potential violence during the Richard Spencer speech.

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder says there is nothing better than real-world experience to learn from, to sharpen their skills should a threat of violence or protests erupt in our area.

Snyder said he was reminded how critical it is to have a clear plan, and execute it.

Thousands of protestors were vocal and passionate, but they overall remained peaceful.

“They all got to express their first amendment rights and there was no violence, so I’m relieved,” Snyder said.

Snyder returned to Martin County from Gainesville Thursday night, along with 22 deputies who are part of the Rapid Response Team.

They were in Gainesville to assist Florida Highway Patrol Troopers who were on the front line of defense.

“If the Florida Highway Patrol had more than they could handle, we would have been the very next ones on the line helping Highway Patrol,” Snyder said.

Area law enforcement officers were notified weeks ago that they might be needed.

Snyder’s team agreed to assist, knowing there was a lot to be learned from this experience.

“You can’t pay for training as valuable as we got,” Snyder said.

Snyder praised Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell for giving clear direction, creating a solid plan and organizing the right resources.

“The proper amount of barricades, the proper amount of law enforcement presence,” Snyder listed.

He saw first-hand how the resources were implemented, and the plan executed.

“I did leave there with a sense of just how important pre-planning is,” Snyder said.

It’s experience the deputies and sheriff will bring back to our community.

“15-20 years ago, we didn’t have these kinds of response needs here in this area. We do now. We have to be alert, we have to be ready.”

The Rapid Response Team has also responded to other out of county needs, such as Hurricane Irma and Matthew relief and the Presidential Inauguration.

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