The Bradford County Commissioners allocated $75,000 in funding last Thursday that will help the Bradford Regional Special Operations Response Team purchase specialized portable communications equipment that will not only provide them secure, encrypted channels of communication when it comes to responding to a shooting or stand-off situation, but also protect their hearing from the noise of gunfire in an area such as a school hallway and enhance their ability to hear minute sounds when needed.
The grant is being provided through Act 13 impact fee funding, according to commissioners.
The Bradford Regional Special Operations Response Team is a collaboration between multiple law enforcement agencies in the county that prepares to respond to incidents that go beyond the normal patrol, such as a stand-off or active shooter events, according to team members in attendance at Thursday’s meeting. Training began three years ago, and the team started active response around two years ago.
Although required monthly training can vary per an officer’s role on the team, Athens Borough police officer Derek Dekar said each individual member is responsible for at least 16 hours of training per month.
“Over half of it is volunteer,” he added.
The team not only involves law enforcement from Sayre, Athens and Towanda boroughs, Athens Township and the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office, but also Greater Valley EMS (GVEMS).
GVEMS Chief Derrick Hall explained that his involvement provides a much more active response than the model of old in which emergency medical personnel would be stationed away from the scene until it was secure.
During the response, Hall said he is right there with the team “so that when they go through the door, I’m not far behind them. That provides care on site, whether it’s an officer or civilian involved. There’s no delay at that point because I’m attached to those guys.”
The team members’ training also involves going through the Tactical Combat Casualty Care class, which provides them the skills to provide medical care to themselves and civilians as well, Hall added.
“We’re trying to make Bradford County as safe as possible,” said Sayre Borough Police Department Sgt. Bruce Hoffman.
Commissioners praised the efforts of team members Thursday
“It’s just unbelievable, the level of commitment that our local police officers have,” said Commissioner Ed Bustin, noting that this grant is a continuation of past investments to enhance response in area schools.
“We appreciate all that you guys do and we’re just so thankful to have the money to give to you,” said Commissioner Chairman Doug McLinko.