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Rincon officers to be honored for defusing potential violent situation
Police Chief Mark Gerbino congratulates Officer Brittney Hadden in his office Thursday. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
Officer Mitchell Adderton and Razor of the Rincon Police Department K-9 Unit - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
I want to thank Officer Brittney Hadden as well as K-9 Officer Mitchell Adderton for a safe and successful outcome to what could have been a deadly encounter,
Mark Gerbino, Rincon police chief

RINCON — Officers Brittney Hadden and Mitchell Adderton of the Rincon Police Department will be honored for successfully wedging themselves in the gap between tranquility and tumult.

On Dec. 26 at approximately 2 p.m., the officers responded to a call that resulted in the arrest of a man armed with a loaded handgun.

“I want to thank Officer Brittney Hadden as well as K-9 Officer Mitchell  Adderton for a safe and successful outcome to what could have been a deadly encounter,” said Mark Gerbino, Rincon police chief. 

Hadden responded to a domestic call from a woman who said her boyfriend had threatened to shoot her. She provided text messages “of an extremely violent nature” to support her accusation.

“As I was talking to her, she showed me some text messages,” Hadden said. “They said, ‘I haven’t shot anyone. In a minute, I will shoot at you.’ Basically, he said, ‘I will kill you if you spill me out (report me).”

With Adderton as her backup, Hadden approached the suspect, who was entering his vehicle that was parked at a business near where the woman is employed.

“I got in my car and was going to conduct a traffic stop with him,” Hadden said. “Then I turned around on him and got him. He eventually got out of his car and, when he did, I went ahead and detained him because I already had a name on him.

“He confirmed his name and that’s when I knew I had my suspect.”

After being read his Miranda rights, the suspect, who was carrying a passenger, denied threatening the woman. While this was going on, Adderton and his dog discovered the Glock and marijuana.

“He was armed and dangerous, and subsequently arrested for terroristic threats, possession of a firearm while committing a criminal offense and possession of marijuana less than an ounce,” Gerbino said.

Hadden said the suspect sent the texts Dec. 22 and the tension heightened Dec. 26 when he reported to work within eyesight of the victim’s place of employment.

“She knew he was at work and she was fearing for her life,” Hadden said. “That’s why she called us out there so that we could go ahead and get the scoop on him. I think once saw him in the parking lot at work — because she knew what he drove — that kind of alerted her more that this could be something serious.

“So I went ahead with my precautions and what my training and experience have been, and did what I thought was right.”

Fortunately, Hadden and Gerbino said it is uncommon for domestic disputes in Rincon to elevate to the point that firearms are involved.

“Violent domestic disputes are not particularly on the rise but each domestic dispute has the potential for being violent,” Gerbino explained. “They are particularly more prevalent over the holidays.”

Gerbino said officers have plenty to consider when the report to incidents of domestic violence.

“Everything from the time of the call to the successful outcome — hopefully — is greatly dependent on their mindset as soon as the dispatcher broadcasts the call,” he said. “They have to immediately start thinking. They think tactically first and as social workers second. We assess the situation; we identify the threat levels, if any; we develop a solution to it — is it best that we arrest (the suspect) or plug them into a community-based resource for relationship counseling? — and we implement whatever our analysis has told us,.

“It’s greatly dependent on what they find at the scene. We are blessed in Effingham County to have a menu of resources and options to help people.”

 Hadden and Gerbino urged citizens to report victims of domestic abuse without fail.

“Don’t put it on the back burner,” Hadden said. “If you feel like your life is in danger and people are saying (threatening) things to you, you need to report it right then. I think the community needs to know that these are important things and we are here for you.”

 Gerbino said domestic disputes are frequently perilous for officers, too, and he is grateful Hadden and Adderton resolved the Dec. 26 case safely. They will have commendations written by Gerbino added to their files because of their handling of it.

 “If you do an analysis of the 147 incidents around the country where (officers were killed on duty in 2018), there was a number of them that occurred as the officers were going up to the house,” he said. “It’s proven to be one of the most combustible things officers can walk into. What I can’t emphasize enough is that when they go out, they don’t know if they are going to go home at night.”