Last time around, with the assistance of Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett and Hudson Police Chief L. Edward Moore, I outlined the conditions that precede the deployment of a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) response, and what factors those in charge consider before issuing the final authorization of a raid.
This week, let’s hear more from Sheriff Bartlett and Police Chief Moore for additional insight into their thoughts and approach when it comes to a tactical response.
As Sheriff Bartlett points out, the men and women composing the team are trained in a variety of disciplines, including such specialties as sniper, negotiator, chemicals and explosives. These highly trained individuals “go to schools — if there’s a SWAT course, they go to it.”
Police Chief Moore said the city saved money when it joined in the SWAT shared services agreement with the county: “By joining up, I could train and equip fewer officers (from 12 to six) and actually save Hudson some money. It costs me approximately $1,000 dollars per month to train my members. I now have fewer, but better equipped and trained team members.”
Since joining forces, said Moore, “To date, we have had nine deployments in the City of Hudson, with nine total illegal weapons recovered, along with drugs and cash. From these investigations we have successfully prosecuted drug dealers, along with child abusers, burglars, and dangerous felons.”
Moore went on to add, “I wish we did not need a SWAT team. However, it is an asset that responsible police administrators have in their tool bag. It would be much easier for Hudson to withdraw from the team and hand the responsibility over to Sheriff Bartlett and the troopers. We could direct traffic, and not face any criticism. However, by actively participating in Shared Services, I maintain local control, and understand the sensibilities and expectations of our local residents. I do not think we have been heavy-handed. Hudson is not a war zone. It would be a disastrous point in my life to have one of my officers injured, or maybe killed, because I did not assign the force necessary to control and contain a dangerous situation.”
Situations requiring a tactical response, reminded Bartlett, are dangerous, potentially explosive and continually evolve throughout the response. All precautions are taken to ensure the safety of all, but, as if to underscore the peril involved, “unfortunately, things can go wrong. Albany Medical Center will send a trauma surgeon, along with a blood bank, to a major scene in the event a police officer or civilian requires care.”
As I stated earlier, I wholeheartedly support the efforts of all involved in a tactical response situation. With people out there selling heroin that is killing people at an alarming rate, the law enforcement component is key in the fight against the opioid epidemic. We are fortunate that Columbia County is home to a first-rate shared resources response team.
Matt Murell is chairman of the board of the Columbia County Supervisors. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.