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The drug dealer, fleeing from a pursuing Marietta, Georgia, police officer, looked both menacing and scared as I stood in his escape route.

Moments earlier, police officers working on an active narcotics investigation witnessed this bad guy making a parking lot transaction with a passenger of a car. The officers subsequently pulled it over and found drugs in the passenger’s possession. The now-penitent customer was handcuffed and placed on the curb of a nearby apartment complex.

Then the original drug dealer coincidentally walked up near the scene, breaking through some brush behind the apartment complex. He paused as he realized his error. He eyeballed the cops just as both of the Marietta Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU) officers spotted him. He also knew that he was far enough away to evade the officers if he cut through the rear of the apartment complex. As he took off, Sergeant Liedke immediately gave chase while Officer Evan Waldrep maintained custody of the prisoner being held for felony possession.

Trying to help, I went over to an adjoining parking lot—just as the drug dealer was using it to escape to the street to get away. Except I was right in his path.

Southern Roots

That was just one day working with the Marietta Police Department (MPD), which is the law in Cobb County, Georgia, a suburban community just northwest of Atlanta, Georgia. The MPD deals with its 59,000 residents as well as hundreds of thousands of commuters and tourists traveling from Miami to Detroit and Chicago on Interstate 75 and Highway 41 daily.

Marietta is deeply steeped in southern history, as it was the starting place of what was called the “Great Locomotive Chase” during the Civil War, one of the first ever U.S. Army special operations. During this operation, Union agents tried to steal a Confederate train and cripple the southern rail system, resulting in one of the U.S. Army operators being awarded the very first Medal of Honor. Marietta was also the first stop during Sherman’s “March to the Sea,” where he burned most of the town before moving on to ravage many parts of southeastern Georgia.

Marietta is now a modern community, and it’s the also home of aircraft-maker Lockheed Martin. Marietta succeeds in blending its rich history and heritage with current technology and a supportive civil organization, which includes the one of the most innovative LE agencies in the country.

Meet The MPD

Recognized by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as one of the top three in the nation, the MPD has 137 sworn officers who are divided into three different functional divisions. The Support Services Division manages administrative functions and training, while the Investigations Division is responsible for detectives and forensics. There’s also a K9 Division, and the Uniform Division consists of the CIU and uniformed patrol.

The MPD provides each officer with a primary patrol rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P15 MOE carbine equipped with an Aimpoint CompM4 red-dot sight and a Streamlight TLR-1S light. Every sworn officer is also given at least two pistols: a powerful Glock 22 Gen4 in .40 S&W with a tactical light and their choice of a Glock 27 .40, a S&W Shield 9mm or the new Glock 42 .380 ACP for off-duty, backup and undercover work. By a ratio of four to one, MPD officers have adopted the G42 as their preferred concealable backup weapon. The G42 is chambered for the .380 ACP, which allows for a skinny frame and a smaller slide, with low-profile controls and sights to prevent snagging. With modern ammunition, the G42 gives Marietta PD officers the last word to resolve a situation, usually very close and unexpected, when lives are at risk and their primary weapons are unavailable.

The MPD is also adopting the brand new, long-awaited, single-stack G43 9mm for its officers to carry in ankle holsters or in a custom kydex holster concealed on their duty vests. Barely larger than the G42, the G43 has the advantage of chambering the 9mm cartridge, probably the world’s most popular pistol caliber. As Lieutenant Brian Marshall, the department armorer and head of the MPD’s Firearms Training Unit, said, “The caliber debate is not about stopping power or potency, because it’s a good thing to have any gun when your primary weapon is down or out of reach and the threat is still present. The G43 is small, lightweight, and it chambers the 9mm, which is less expensive and more plentiful than the .380 ACP. It is also a logical choice as we transition our primary issued duty pistol over to the G34 9mm tactical long slide.”

It also helps that the G22 Gen4, G27, G42 and G43 have similar trigger pulls, sights and operating systems. Using one translates to trigger time with the other. This has already led to higher qualification scores for Marietta PD officers. Some have even used the Glock 42 to repeatedly hit steel targets at ranges from 100 to 120 yards, with one officer, Clay Culpepper, calling the G42 a “tack driver.”

Long Gun Steel

The Marietta SWAT team consists of 29 members who are divided into entry, perimeter and sniper elements, as well as some of the most qualified and trained medics in the country. In addition, most team members are cross-trained for explosive breaching, mechanical breaching, sniper duties and team leadership so no operation is delayed due to a lack of a particular qualification on scene. MPD SWAT snipers use Remington Model 700 SPS Tactical rifles in 7.62mm NATO with AAC 762-SDN-6 sound suppressors, as well as 7.62mm H-S Precision bolt-action rifles and a Remington 700 Police MLR chambered in .338 Lapua Magnum and referred to as “Thor’s Hammer,” with an AAC Titan suppressor. All of the rifles are equipped with Leupold Mark 4 tactical riflescopes.

Noveske Rifleworks make rifles for serious shooters who need to consistently make first-round hits when lives are on the line. Based on that simple fact, the MPD has purchased 20 Noveske N4 Light carbines for the SWAT team’s primary weapons. Each sports a low-profile gas block under a 10-inch, free-floating handguard with Picatinny rails, flip-up front and rear sights and an Aimpoint CompM4 red-dot sight. The N4 has a 10.5-inch, cold-hammer-forged barrel with a 1-in-7-inch twist rate to handle any 5.56mm bullet weight, and it has the Noveske Switchblock for manual gas regulation. The Switchblock is a barrel-mounted system that allows the operator to switch ports as needed to maintain reliability with or without a sound suppressor attached or to mitigate fouling during high use.

The Marietta SWAT team uses AAC’s M4-2000 and Mini4 suppressors for the N4. Why? Well, for one thing, they give the operator a great deal of audio relief in a tactical situation, making communications and voice commands feasible besides the tactical advantage of masking the team’s sound signature.

In The Way

The bad guy looked at me, obviously deciding whether he should go around me or through me, as I blocked his escape path. While I was probably not very intimidating, Officer Evan Waldrep has a very powerful presence. When he bellowed for the miscreant to stop after seeing him running towards me, the bad guy responded and (luckily for me) gave up the chase. Later, officers searched the drug dealer’s car and apartment, uncovering plenty of drugs. My day with the CIU was very productive and successful, with four felony arrests.

Earlier in the day, a detained individual saw me and said, “You’re going to learn today.” After spending time with the MPD, that prediction turned out to be perfectly true. The officers of the MPD showed me that they know how to take on crime face-to-face so the bad guys learn that Marietta, Georgia, is not the place to commit crimes. The Marietta Police Department is as good as it gets in the Southeast.

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