JOHNSTOWN - Members of the Glove Cities Emergency Response Team used the Johnstown High School on Thursday to improve their communication and mechanics in training situations, including active shooter scenarios.
The Gloversville and Johnstown police departments received a $100,000 federal grant last month to support their joint Emergency Response Team.
Sgt. Marc Porter put in the work to obtain the funding, which mostly will go toward equipment and training needed for the response team.
From left, Jon Silva, Rick Richardson and Chad Buddles of the Gloversville Police Department, and Mike Millias of the Johnstown Police Department conduct a search utilizing a polecam and monitor to see around corners and up steps at Johnstown High School during a joint tactical training session at the school Thursday.
Photo by Bill Trojan/The Leader-Herald
He said the team was using the school while students were on break so its members could become accustomed with all parts of the building and work together on verbal and non-verbal communication and different tactics needed in the event of a high-risk situation, such as an active shooter.
More specifically, Porter said the team was taking part in structure and hallway clearing, stairwell transitions, downed officer situations and Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response, or LASER, drills.
"We owe it to the community and the students that attend the schools to be prepared for any kind of emergency," Porter said. "We practice things like the active shooter because it's a nationwide problem and we hope we never have to utilize these skills, but we could be called to assist other municipalities as well and we have to be ready."
Porter said the team is made up of 15 members and is primarily used for high-risk search warrants, but it also can be used for active shooters, bomb threats, hostage situations or any incident where there is a violent threat against the public.
He said the team recently was used to respond to a social-media threat involving Gloversville High School and several drug busts in the city.
Porter said the training and equipment for the team previously came out of each police department's equipment and training allowance within each yearly budget. The new grant will allow for more training and equipment purchases, he said.
He said in an emergency situation the departments may not have time for a team to assemble because a lot of the active shooter scenarios are done in about eight minutes.
"There is a mixture of officers here today and they may have to respond to this type of emergency in uniform in regular duty, so this training to improve their skills can be shared with other officers in that type of event," Porter said.
Not only did the team get valuable training on Thursday but also had the opportunity to test equipment such as uniforms, flexible handcuffs and robotic cameras, which all could potentially be purchased in the future.
He said he expects more training and equipment purchases to take place later this year.
"The school is giving our guys at Gloversville familiarity they may not have in a Johnstown building," Porter said. "In April during [the students'] spring break, we might do a similar exercise in a Gloversville school, but these buildings offer a lot of different types of rooms from the larger ones to the smaller hallways and stairwells, which will help us be more prepared."