|For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
|Contact: Jim Van Dongen
State, Regional Police Units To Conduct Joint Training
CONCORD, NH - The NH Department of Safety and the NH Association of Chiefs of Police will be partnering in an effort to provide enhanced opportunities for state and regional special operations units to work together. The joint effort is aimed at enabling them to become more familiar with one another’s operations in the event of a large-scale disaster where multiple teams might be required to respond simultaneously.
Commissioner of Safety John J. Barthelmes and Chief Ted Smith of Lincoln, President of the NH Association of Chiefs of Police, working in conjunction with Director Christopher M. Pope of Safety’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, have announced that with federal funding from the Department of Homeland Security, the first of a series of joint Special Operations Unit exercises will take place in the near future. This will involve the State Police SWAT team and the Strafford County Special Operations Unit.
In the future, similar exercises will be held with special operations teams in other parts of the state. The homeland security exercises will range from simple "table top" exercises, where the commanders of two or more teams sit at a common command post and decide how they would deploy their personnel in an evolving scenario, to future, full-scale exercises where complete teams carry out simulated missions in the field. This effort will build on and be more extensive than more limited earlier, successful exercises that were held in Berlin earlier this year and one held at the Manchester/Boston Regional Airport that included the State Police, FBI, and Southern NH teams.
The Commissioner and President Smith said there are any number of situations where more than one team could be required to respond to a natural disaster or man-made emergency, These have occurred with increasing frequency in the US and Canada as well as in many nations abroad, such as in the recent tragedy at Mumbai, India.
Some situations extend over a period of days, where fresh teams are required to spell the first responding team due to fatigue. Others involve situations where there is a criminal attack on more than one site at the same time, or a severe weather event such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or flood that affects a wide area and creates the need for rescue missions and protection against looting in several different locations at once.
Bringing in multiple teams from diverse locations becomes easier when they are familiar with one another and when their operating protocols are similar, standardized, and understood by each.
"New Hampshire is fortunate in that we have good radio communications interoperability," Commissioner Barthelmes notes. "Under the leadership of State Police Col. Fred Booth, several million dollars in federal and state funds have been spent over the past five years to convert portable, mobile and base radios used by New Hampshire’s state, county and local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and emergency medical teams to digital equipment with common frequency designs so that a police car, fire truck or ambulance from one part of the state can respond to another community miles away and at the push of a button, communicate with sister agencies in that part of the state on that area’s own radio frequencies."
"Fire Departments, through their Mutual Aid systems and the use of the Incident Command System first devised by the forest fire service, have been doing joint exercises for years. Police departments have also participated in joint exercises, but law enforcement has done very few joint state/federal local SOU exercises in the past, according to Chief Smith.
Chief Smith further stated that "The municipal Police Chiefs and their officers have worked hard and long to develop a number of regional SOU teams that have assisted our communities. This collaboration and the development of a better system of interaction with all public safety agencies will serve our state well."
The first exercise is currently in the planning stages and should take place by spring. Meanwhile, the NH Police Standards and Training Council will be funding an expert study of all the SOU teams in the state to determine the extent to which their design, structure, training and deployment protocols reflect best current practices, and make recommendations for any improvements.