Council OKs SWAT team

GLOVERSVILLE – The Common Council recently approved an intermunicipal agreement between Johnstown and Gloversville police to have a joint Special Weapons and Tactics Team.

In a unanimous decision, city council members approved the agreement, which will allow a joint SWAT team between the Johnstown and Gloversville police departments.

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

According to Gloversville police Chief Donald VanDeusen, the agreement allows access to grant funding as well.

The city of Johnstown previously approved the plan in July.

The agreement allows the two cities to work together during emergency responses, while still keeping in line with state Department of Criminal Justice Services’ standards.

Johnstown police Chief Mark Gifford said in July the two cities have had a shared an “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 $100,000 state grant.

The agreement would not change current operating procedures for either department.

“It doesn’t change anything about the way we do business,” VanDeusen said. “All [it] does is words it in a way so it is specific to the [Department of Criminal Justice Services’] standards for intermunicipal SWAT teams.”

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.

“Hopefully we will get a share of that going forward,” VanDeusen said.

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,” Johnstown’s resolution said.

Currently, the Gloversville Police Department has eight SWAT team members, while Johnstown has six, according to VanDeusen. Gloversville’s current team has been together since late 2012.