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|Special Report: Duxbury’s emergency response teams|
|By Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, June 26, 2013 09:04 AM|
Now that the Boston Marathon bombings memorial has been moved to the city archives in West Roxbury, the Clipper takes a look back at the commitment Duxbury officers made to help the city in its time of need.
“If and when craziness comes to our town, they will be there to help us out.” – Police Chief Matthew ClancyWhen the call came in asking for any and all help he could provide, Duxbury Police Chief Matthew Clancy was confident in deploying five of his specially trained officers to aid in the immediate aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Many Duxbury officers are part of the Metropolitan Law Enforcement Council (MetroLEC), which has over 40 member towns. In the event of an emergency, MetroLEC personnel from the region will respond, providing the town in need with access to extra canine, computer crime, crisis negotiation, motorcycle and SWAT units.
Duxbury is also a member town of the Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (SEMLEC), which reaches down as far as New Bedford and Fall River. On the cusp of both MetroLEC and SEMLEC, Duxbury has access to assistance from other towns and the ability to pro- vide assistance to them.
At the ready
By 5 p.m. Monday afternoon, April 15, Duxbury officers were in Boston, ready to assist in any way. Two MetroLEC mobile opera- tions motorcycle unit officers from Duxbury, Sergeant Dennis Symmonds and Officer Thomas Johnson, and Sergeant Kristin Golden, from the MetroLEC investigative unit, were sent almost immediately to areas around Boston where assistance was most needed.
Sgt. Symmonds and Officer Johnson were initially sent to a staging area, where they received their first assignment: road closures. The pair then transitioned to securing hotels and manning a presence in Copley Square, down Boylston Street and by the Prudential Center.
In the meantime, Sgt. Golden was working with several hundred other detectives and investigators from MetroLEC and various units in the Greater Boston Area, following up on tips as they came in on the tip line.
She was all over creation that night,” said Clancy. “They had the information pouring in so fast there just weren’t enough Boston cops, troopers or FBI agents.”
By late Monday evening, K-9 Officer Ryan Cavicchi, a member of MetroLEC SWAT, arrived in Boston and worked on securing hotels in the area.
On April 17, Sgt. Symmonds and Officer Johnson were part of the motorcade that escorted President Barack Obama to the hospitals. On April 19, Officer Dan Brown, a detective and member of SEMLEC, was deployed to UMass Dartmouth, a SEMLEC member community, where the SWAT team secured the dorm room in question and set up a perimeter while they awaited the arrival of the FBI entry and forensic teams. On April 20, the day after bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was discovered hiding in a boat in a backyard in Water- town, Duxbury MetroLEC officers were present at the Red Sox game at Fenway Park. On
April 24, Duxbury officers escorted the motorcade of Vice President Joe Biden when he attended MIT Officer Sean Collier’s funeral.
“As the days went on, our officers were part of the motorcycle groups patrolling the neighborhoods in Boston,” Clancy said. “I would get messages from people asking why Duxbury officers were in Mattapan. I don’t think anyone really understood how deeply involved all the towns surrounding Boston were in the aftermath.”
Officer Cavicchi spent several days in the Cambridge and Watertown areas, working with fellow officers to secure surrounding areas and following up on leads.
All in all, Duxbury officers provided aid to Boston for nine days.
“We’ve planned for this and we’ve trained for this,” Clancy said. “But we always hope that we are training for events that never happen.”
Clancy said his MetroLEC and SEMLEC officers don’t sit idly by in between major incidents. SWAT teams are activated two to three times a month, Clancy said, in response to hostage, high risk or drug-involved situations.
“Our motorcycles get a lot of action too,” Clancy said. “We have had very successful sports teams lately and we are on standby for parades and large events.”
Sgt. Golden is also a search and rescue team manager and has dealt with a number of high profile cases over the last few years. She has also been called upon to testify on a number of cases, Clancy said. It is this type of work that officers in- volved in the law enforcement councils perform to help other communities.
Law enforcement councils around the state inform police departments when a need aris- es for more highly trained of- ficers to join the organization. Officers nominated for, or in- terested in, becoming a law enforcement council mem- ber go through an extensive vetting, as well as a rigorous physical fitness abilities test- ing, process.
“I can nominate my of- ficers, but that doesn’t mean they can just throw on a Kev- lar vest and jump on the back of one of those cool trucks,” Clancy said.
Officers have to prove they are mentally and physically fit for their assignments and then go on to substantial training in their fields. At the end of training, there is a pass-fail component officers must participate in.
“This is high-intensity training,” Clancy said. “For example, SWAT teams work in high anxiety, high stress situations. You have to be incredibly physically fit, have a great shot and possess the ability to make a decision in a split second. Only those who meet all the criteria land positions within the law enforcement councils.”
For Duxbury, strength ahead
“The question often arises: ‘What’s in it for Duxbury’?” Clancy said. “My response is always the same. We had to, as public safety, respond to Bos ton. They absolutely needed us and wanted us there and we had to be prepared.”
Clancy said the major benefit of belonging to the law enforcement councils and participating in the training programs is the comfort of knowing that if trouble ever comes to Duxbury, the surrounding towns will be there to help.
“It’s also a great comfort to know that we have high- performing SWAT operators under our own roof that know what they are doing,” Clancy said.
Over the years, there have been a number of issues that occur, such as missing persons with Alzheimer’s or autism, where a lot of bodies are needed, quickly, in order to conduct a successful search.
“That’s where it pays off,” Clancy said. “I pick up the phone and within half an hour we have one or two command post trucks and 40 highly trained people at my beck and call.”
One major obstacle facing the law enforcement councils and their training programs is funding. Post-9/11, federal funding greatly increased to support such programs. A decade later, Clancy said, public safety departments are seeing a decline in funding and support for the programs.
The police chief said he is planning on recognizing his officers in front of selectmen this summer to honor the hard work and commitment to helping the city of Boston through one of the most difficult times in recent history. Looking back, Clancy said he was proud of his officers.
“Is it above and beyond the call of duty? No, it’s not,” Clancy said. “We hoped we’d never have to do this kind of stuff, but they’ve trained hard, for many years, on these units, and they are very proficient at their tasks. On this particular week, they were called into action for the worst of scenarios.”