Three years ago we committed to moving forward and using whatever tools we have to keep our citizens informed during critical incidents. Since that time we have perfected it to the following methods:
- Reverse 911 calls to homes through the State Emergency 911 Center.
- Immediate Push Notifications through the Middleton Police Mobile App
- Social Media notifications which are sent from the Middleton Police Mobile App.
First we train. Our command staff has gone through critical incident training on how to manage events. This is a three day school during which we are thrown to the wolves and given unknown situations to manage and are critiqued hard on our management skills.
Officers are trained on active shooter response. This is a state wide program which is three days in length. During this training we are put into live simulated situations. We have simulated rounds (soap projecticles) shot at us and have simulated bombs (training flash bangs) thrown at us.
All Middleton Police have been trained in battle wound first aid and CPR. If one of us were to go down from a gun shot, the goal of this training is to be able to self treat and stay alive. It is also there to get immediate aid to a victim during a critical event. This training also can come in handy during severe medical emergencies such as car crashes as we await the response of emergency medical provider.s
Command Staff has attended the Explosive Training provided by the United States Homeland Security Department.
Most recently we have attended the "Train the Trainor Civillian Response to the Active Shooter."
In July of 2015 we started planning and looking at our procedures for response to School Based incidents. We have completed our Police Department Protocol and are in the stages of rolling out training to our rank and file. Because we are a small agency, the lowest ranking officer has to have the same ability to lead an event until such time that they are relieved by a Superior Officer.
So what do we do to stay ready? When a call comes into the police dispatch center, that call is logged. The Police Dispatch software automatically sends that call to the cellphone of a police supervisor and Chief 24 hours a day seven days a week. This enable us to know what is going on at every waking and non-waking moment of the day. Because this call is pushed to our phone as the dispatcher is typing, we often receive the page just before the call is dispatched.
All full time police officers are issued police radios. If this is a critical call and a supervisor is not on duty, they will monitor the call or if it is a highly critical call, they will sign on duty and respond to the scene.
While enroute to the scene, the Supervisor will size up the situation by communicating with the on duty officer. The Supervisor will ensure that enough mutual aid units from surrounding communities are in place as well as any special equipment response necessary. Off Duty personnel are called into duty when available and necessary. We also need to assess how long an event might go. If the event is going to be long such as a hurricane or tornado damage, we may not call some units into work as we would need to keep personnel fresh to continue our operations.
During this time, a supervisor will access what we need for additional services. EMS may be put on stand by and if it is a critical emergency we may request Paramedic response as well as a fire department response or staging. Staging means to remain on duty ready to respond. If we need to close an area we may contact our local emergency management to set up temporary shelters where folks can go until the area is cleared.
As you saw during the LakeShore incident three years ago, the Supervisor will also look at the timing of the event. If school is in session, we may stop busses from travelling or in the future may place the school in a lock down situation. During the LakeShore incident, the Supervisor knew that the busses would be leaving soon and had dispatch notify the SAU to stop the busses.
When a supervisor arrives on scene, they will alert the public when necessary. Our standard routine is to alert the public during times when there is no public threat for the sole purpose of having folks not worried or in a panic. An example of this might be a quick blurb saying multiple units are enroute for a missing person search. There is no public danger and we will update shortly. As we gather information we will then update with a photo and last known direction of travel to gain the aid of our citizen partners.
We may also alert for things like road closures and hazzards. At times we may need to evacuate homes.
During chemical or explosive situations, we have access to software provided to us through Homeland Security. This software captures our location, we input the emergency and the software identifies where we have to evacuate. Below is an image of the software that shows a propane emergency at Avon Lane.
The coded dot shows the emergency type and the circle identifies our perimeter and evacuation zones. Using this software, a supervisor would immediately know that we would have to have 4 police cars close roads and sufficient personnel to assist the fire department during the evacuation process. This software is run from our cellphone in the field. During this time, a supervisor is most likely going to take one of those positions until we get sufficent personnel to the scene. The supervisor will multi task and conduct traffic while monitoring and managing the event.
We are also implimenting laptop computers in the field. This will give us direct communications with the dispatch center and officers in the field with two way messaging. This allows us to keep critical information off the airways.
The Dispatch software also allows the supervisor to see where our units are positioned. It also allows for the Supervisor to enter information directly into the log from the field keeping radio traffic to a minimum. The mobile computers also give us access to the NCIC system which allows us to run motor vehicle checks and warrant checks from the field.
Our cellphones and laptops also allow us to access checklist on what needs to be done. This ensures that every member of the police department has the tools needed to manage the event in the same way.
So how do you as a citizen help us during a crisis. First and formost, use a method to allow us to keep in touch with you. The best way is to download the Middleton Police App on your smart phone and allow us to send push notifications. This allows us to reach you immediately with critical information. Please follow our directions.
If you do not have a smartphone, you can follow us on Facebook and twitter. Our blogs are also pushed to the Town website at www.middletonnh.gov
Please do not call Dispatch during a critical emergency unless you have an emergency. This ties up phone lines and keeps a dispatcher occupied when we may need them from the field.
Please do not attempt to go to the scene of an emergency. You will not get through the scene and will hamper our ability by adding another layer of what we need to deal with.
Keep in mind that a critical emergency has several things going on that keeps us extremely busy. Once we put out information, we do not monitor the social media pages. We will update information when we can and as quickly as we can. In the Middleton Police mobile app there is a scanner section located under the More button. You can click on the link and listen to what is going on. Keep in mind that we are aware of the public monitoring and intentionally communicate by phone, text and two way messaging with dispatch on information that would be dangerous to put out over the air.
A huge help in critical incidents is the public following directions. Last week we closed Silver Street as we did not know if we had a shooter or victim in the woods. We asked folks to stay inside and avoid the area. This was to ensure that the public was not placed in danger. The public followed this direction which allowed for us to manage the scene more effectively. With that cooperation and coordiantion we make our community a safer place.
This year, the Middleton Elementary School will open. Over the next several months we will be conducting some internal training to make sure we are prepared for the unexpected. Our role in the community requires us to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
There is more to planning for a school than active shooter training. We will be training for such things as threat response. What do we do for suspicious packages or phone calls of threats or electronic threats. What if a stranger gains access to the school?
What do we do if multiple children become sick at school? What do we do during a weather related emergency such as a hurricane or tornado. How do we handle a fuel leak in the parking lot? How do we handle the notifications if a child becomes critically ill or dies outside of school hours. How are the counseling and crisis teams activated? What happens if a truck carring acid has a spill on the Kings Highway? What if we have an emergency involving firearms in the neighborhood? What about an out of town bus crash?
While we know the answer to these situations, our training becomes critical so that handling these events when and if they happen becomes second nature to us. Our plans do not become a public record as we don't want to educate the bad guy on what we do to be ready.
Lastly, post critical events, we debrief. We look at the good, bad and the ugly and change policy or procedure so we get better. This blog, social media and the Middleton Police App were a direct result of our critique of an incident where we learned we need to reach the citizens with real time accurate information. We are proud of our communication skills are are often told we have the best system around.
Thanks for taking the time to read what we do. Rest assured that our Agency as a Team will be ready for whatever is thrown at us. We appreciate the support that has been shown to us by the Community during emergency events and will continiously strive to get better. We will always respond as if the people we are protecting are our own mothers, fathers, grandparents, sons and daughters.
During our most recent event, our social media reached over 30,000 people. This is evidence that our programs are working and for that we thank you for your partnership.