Ready to be Deployed?
That's right: You could be deployed & away from home for weeks or days ...By Calibre Press | Nov 7, 2016
That word, for myself and many veterans, brings up images of long plane flights to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, or six months afloat in waters far from home with port stops in unique and exotic countries. What I’m talking about here, in this article, is expeditionary law enforcement.
We, as cops, think of beings cops on familiar streets, neighborhoods, and county roads. Is your agency a part of a state/federal Emergency Management Assistance Compact? Your state very well might be. You, Mr. Beat Cop and Ms. Dusty Road Deputy, could be sent to another state to help out in a disaster or civil disorder situation.
How It Should Work
I have just returned from what was my, I hope, final trip out to the Dakota Access Pipe Line protests in Morton County, N.D. I was part of, from what I have been told, the largest single law enforcement operation in the history of North Dakota. History was made, certainly. All told, over the past few months, I’ve spent about 30 days, with the most recent stretch being 13 days, out there as a special deputy for Morton and Burleigh counties.
My chief answered the call to send help and our agency has responded by rotating volunteers out there since August. I’m not going to get into details of the mission out there or the operation that occurred on October 27. It is still an active investigation and one that I hope will come to a resolution without any additional violence or property damage. I will say, however, that I am proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with officers, wardens, agents, deputies and troopers from all across my state and several neighboring states.
During this operation, we had assistance from brothers and sisters from over a half-dozen states. Thanks to the National Sheriffs Association for putting out the call and the federal EMAC program signatory states for answering the call.
These events are few and far between. Your agency may have in-house assets to handle any type of disaster or civil disorder situation that comes along. But if you are like the rest of the cop world—members of agencies that have less than 200 sworn staff members—you may be called to help. Are you ready and is your agency?
Here’s what I purpose. In the event of a disaster or extended riot conditions in your area, your agency should be prepared to offer mutual aid. That means a staffing plan to account for one-quarter to one-third of your sworn staff deployed several hours drive away for multiple days. It also requires equipment, leadership, and training.
I worked with, during these events, officers from agencies as small as three deputies, as well as game wardens, state crime bureau investigators, parole officers, and state troopers from several states. All of these officers had received, either at their home agency or upon arrival in the area, Mobile Field Force(MFF) training. This needs to be taught at every police academy nationwide, in my opinion. Every police officer should have a basic understanding and be able to explain fundamental riot control and crowd control tactics.
In the age of the Taser, many younger officers do not have any training with the straight stick. This needs to change. During the DAPL events, some agencies deployed officers with specialized training from SWAT, dedicated riot squads, or as less-lethal gunners/grenadiers. Several agencies sent officers equipped with helmets with riot shields, straight sticks, and less-lethal guns/launchers(12ga, 37 or 40mm and Pepperball). Those officers were invaluable and put to use promptly.
Every agency in the country, in this day and age, should train in crowd control and riot tactics. Training is offered at no cost to the agency, exclusive of travel, through the federal government. Each agency should be able to equip officers with a helmet (preferably ballistic) with a face shield, straight baton and a large cross-section of the officers should be qualified to fire 12ga beanbag/baton rounds. I would venture a guess and say that most officers, even those like at my agency who do not carry a shotgun (we carry rifles only) have been trained at the basic level to proficiency with a pump-action shotgun. Bonus points for having 40mm grenadiers capable of launching sponge and gas rounds who are not also SWAT operators because they may be tasked otherwise during such an event.
Command officers should know how to access spare department credit cards for the hotels, meals, and extra gas required for such an operation. Under EMAC those expenses are reimbursed along with overtime. I’m not an expert on these programs, but I’ve seen them work.
Command officers should also accompany groups larger than a handful of officers. Should the situation require such a response under mutual aid, extra command officers will be necessary to assist with all of the moving parts. Incident Command System certifications and training should be kept up to date for all involved. A covered trailer and a tow capable vehicle should be accessible to the response team along with sufficient (preferably four-wheel-drive) vehicles in good repair for use during the event should also be available.
Your city may never have a large scale multi-day or -month civil disorder event (the DAPL events have been going on since August 11). However, your state or a neighboring state may very well have one. It would be prudent for all law enforcement agencies to be prepared to respond to such an event and respond professionally and in a manner that can be used well by the requesting agency. Bodies are great, but bodies that bring along training and relevant equipment are better.
In these times, we must be more prepared than ever to police outside our boundaries. We preach unity and talk of the strong bond of law enforcement nationwide. We can continue to wax poetic about it on social media, but I, for one, would rather myself and my agency be prepared to assist brothers and sisters in the trenches in our state and region.
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