Chilmark Police held a joint training exercise Thursday afternoon to hone skills in the event of a hostage situation.
Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren quarterbacked the overall exercise, and worked hand in glove with Tri-Town Ambulance Chief Ben Retmier and Chilmark Fire Chief Jeremy Bradshaw. Chilmark Police Sgt. Sean Slavin ran incident command for the Chilmark Police. The exercise took place at the future site of the Tri-Town Ambulance headquarters, a vacant Middle Road property situated behind town hall. It began with a radio call to Chilmark Police, expanded to involve Tri-Town Ambulance and the Chilmark Fire Department. and developed into an armed standoff between the team and an individual with a hostage. The Martha’s Vineyard Law Enforcement Council and Tactical Response Team (TRT) were then summoned as part of the drill.
In one part of the drill, with Chilmark Police officers in armed positions at various points around the house, a TRT squad rumbled beside the house in a newly acquired armored vehicle and deployed a telephone on spooled wire to link negotiators with the assailant. Those negotiators set up shop behind the Chilmark Community Church, and maintained open dialogue with the assailant, ultimately bringing the crisis to a peaceful end for the assailant, the hostage, and first responders alike.
“I was pleased with the initial response of the Chilmark Police Department … and then our department’s integration into assisting the TRT,” Chief Klaren said in an email to The Times. “For the scenario, the TRT utilized their negotiator cadre as well as the newly acquired Oshkosh M-ATV. The M-ATV demonstrated its ability to protect officers and assist setting up an effective communication link with the negotiating team. After the scenario concluded, the TRT ran multiple evolutions of specific tactics, including breaching, entries/searches, gas (inert) deployment, and rescues of injured parties.”
Police chiefs Rhandi Belain, Matt Mincone, Bruce McNamee, and Mark Saloio observed the drill at various points over its six-hour duration.
Chief Klaren thanked the board of selectmen, whom he credited with enabling his department to hold the drill. He also thanked the Chilmark Community Church for the use of their facilities and the Dukes County Sheriff’s Office “for supplying role players, as well as communications and dispatch support.”