Glove Cities to strike SWAT deal

JOHNSTOWN – The Common Council this week approved an intermunicipal agreement to establish a joint Special Weapons and Tactics Team, or SWAT Team, with Gloversville.

The council on Monday at City Hall approved the Johnstown Police Department’s involvement in the SWAT Team.

Gloversville police Chief Donald VanDeusen said Tuesday he’ll be presenting a proposed similar agreement for his department’s involvement to his city’s council in the “near future.”

“Both departments feel that there is a need for joint response of both police tactical teams to deal with certain criminal acts or threats that may be more effectively dealt with through the use of specially-trained tactical teams than standard police operations,” the agreement resolution states.

VanDeusen said this action by the cities represents an “update” to an existing agreement. He said it also brings the effort of the two cities to work together during emergency responses up to state Department of Criminal Justice Services’ standards.

Johnstown police Chief Mark Gifford said Tuesday that the two cities have had a shared “emergency response team” for many years. But he said this SWAT agreement formalizes what has been done in the past, and also helps his city apply for a new $100,000 grant.

“We’re getting grant money to help pay for training,” Gifford stated.

The resolution passed by the council Monday states: “The formation of this SWAT Team does not change the current operating policy of ether police department.”

The Johnstown council applied to the state Division for Homeland Security and Emergency Services Office of Counter Terrorism for $100,000 in funding under the 2014 Tactical Team Targeted Grant Program.

Law enforcement agencies are eligible to request grant funds to safeguard local tactical teams with the “adequate skills and capabilities to provide a safe and successful response to high-risk incidents, including active shooter events and other counterterrorism missions,” the resolution said.

The agreement creating the SWAT Team includes 11 articles, by which both cities have to sign off on. They include issues such as: personnel, equipment, compensation, line of duty, liability, administration, compliance with existing laws, and duration of the agreement.

According to the agreement, the SWAT Team’s services will be available to either participating city in the event of an emergency.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at manich@leaderherald.com.