Council to eye shared SWAT team at meeting

GLOVERSVILLE – The Common Council will discuss an agreement to share city Special Weapons and Tactics teams with the Johnstown City Police Department at its next meeting.

According to Mayor Dayton King, the Council on Aug. 12 will discuss an agreement to establish a joint SWAT team with Johnstown City Police.

“Our hopes are, at the next council meeting, we will be talking about it, and I anticipate it passing unanimously,” King said.

The city of Johnstown previously approved the plan in July.

The agreement brings the two cities to work together during emergency responses up to state Department of Criminal Justice Services’ standards.

King said he believes the intermunicipal agreement would help the cities, similar to the agreement for the cities’ fire departments.

“It just increases the response time and makes it a safer community for everyone in the two cities,” King said.

King said he hopes the agreement can open the door to more grants or assistance.

Robin Wentworth, first ward councilwoman, said she couldn’t see a reason why sharing services would be a bad idea.

Johnstown police Chief Mark Gifford said in July 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.

The resolution passed by the Johnstown Common Council in July states: “The formation of this SWAT Team does not change the current operating policy of either police department.”

The Johnstown council recently 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.

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