The Herkimer Police Department is seeking to apply for a state Department of Homeland Security grant to pay for training and equipment for its Special Response Team, according to police Chief Joseph Malone.
The SRT is “our version of a SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) team,” said Malone.
SRT members respond to such calls as search warrants for drug arrests and incidents where a person barricades himself inside a building, such as the scenario that followed the March 13 shootings in Mohawk and Herkimer.
The team currently includes 10 members from the Herkimer Police Department and three from the Mohawk Police Department, making it a multi-jurisdictional team.
Malone discussed the grant application during last week’s village board meeting and noted the application states the team could be required to respond to a regional or national situation.
He said during a telephone interview Tuesday the team has responded to emergencies in other area communities, but it is unlikely the 13-man local team would be asked to respond to a national incident.
There are 105 tactical teams in New York state, said Malone, and that doesn’t include state police and Federal Bureau of Investigation teams. Syracuse has a 200-member team, he said.
“There are big teams with a lot of manpower and equipment,” said Malone. “I don’t see us boarding a plane for Utah.”
Still, he said, he wanted to make sure the village board was aware of the requirement before submitting the grant application. Board members raised questions about overtime costs and asked Malone to bring back additional information before finalizing the application for submission.
Members of the Herkimer-Mohawk SRT have trained with other area units locally and as well as with Homeland Security in Oriskany, said Malone. The grant would pay for additional training and for specified equipment.
“One impetus is Webster (the Rochester suburb where a gunman shot and killed two firefighters responding to a call early last Dec. 24) and the Herkimer-Mohawk shootings,” the chief noted.
The application is due Oct. 7 and word on grant recipients is not expected until at least November.
“We’re under consideration,” said Malone.
The Herkimer Police Department first formed its Special Response Team in 2003, according to the chief. In November 2004, the team responded to an incident in Ilion. Brian O’Connor, 42, was shot to death at his home there after he opened fire on Ilion and Herkimer police during an attempt to execute warrants for weapon possession.
“Mohawk came on board about six years ago,” said Malone. “Up until two years ago we were the only team in the area. Now Ilion has a team too.”