Behind The Badge -The Bangor Police Department’s Special Response Team
Public servants like police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, put their lives on the line to save the lives of others.They go into unknown situations and have to rely on their training. 11 officers and 6 paramedics from the Bangor Fire Department make up the Special Response Team of the Bangor Police Department and they know if they are called to a scene it’s dangerous according to the Commander of the SRT, Sgt. Jim Buckley “When we get there it’s probably because something has happened that’s really bad. And we’re trying to deal with the situation and minimize the loss of life as much as we can and that includes the suspect our job is to end situations peacefully.”The SRT began nearly 25 years ago, and has grown from six members to the current seventeen, but the calls today are nearly the same as they were when it started.”We get called for anything that would be beyond the normal capabilities of the patrol division, high risk drug warrants, hostage situations, things like that, that your everyday patrolman on the street doesn’t have the equipment available to deal with,” said BuckleyIn 2005 the SRT expanded to include medics, and for that they turned to the Bangor Fire Department.”There wasn’t much of a selection process, I think about six guys expressed interest and were selected initially,” said SRT Medic and Bangor Fire Fighter Joe Wellman. Those six were sent across the country for rigorous training on how to work as part of a police unit, and Wellman admits it was overwhelming at times, but the training gave them trust with the officers, and trust in their abilities. Now the team trains for anything and everything.”Anything from firearms qualifications and different drills to what we’re doing here today practicing entry movements in a different environment in a school and practicing active shooter response to hostage situations things like that,” said Sgt Buckley.”We create scenarios that replicate as best as they can they types of situations that we’re going to go into. Often times if we are pretending to be the bad guys or assailants, the police officers have no idea how we are going to respond,” said Wellman. “We try to mix things up so that they have to respond to the unknown so that we can see that, we can then trust in their inherent nature that they’re going to do the right thing.”"And that’s why I like training in different areas like this today it’s a different environment,” admitted Buckley “So it makes my team think about how they are going to approach something and it’s different from the last place we trained, and every situation is different. You have to be able to make that call on your feet.”"We hope that we train enough,” said Wellman. “So that when an actual incident happens things come second nature and we can work through anything that doesn’t.”All of the members of the SRT have other jobs in the Police or Fire departments, and only two other departments in the state have teams like this one. They aren’t used often, but Buckley believes it is a necessity.”Thankfully we’re not that busy in Bangor, you know this isn’t the big city, but when something happens it’s one of those things that you need to have available, and I don’t see it going away any time soon and I think it can only expand, the more people you have available that are trained and have the proper equipment the easier it is to deal with these abnormal situations.”None of the six medics are armed during training or real life events.For some of their training the team has used criminal justice students from Husson University.