|Mid-Miami Valley Chamber members and guests held their monthly luncheon to network and hear an update from Middletown Police Chief Bill Becker, Monroe Police Chief Ernest Howard, and Trenton Police Chief Rod Hale. The three chiefs outlined how their departments increasingly work together to share resources and consolidate training to better protect their communities and conserve the limited funds they have for training and specialized equipment.
The three chiefs, all of whom began their police careers with the Middletown Police Department, have a collective total of nearly 100 years of experience.
Following the 9/11 disaster, changes were made locally in parking patterns around public buildings. Tighter security measures and updated disaster plans were just the beginning and most obvious.
Other less obvious changes have also been made. Automatic and high powered weapons are no longer stored away. They are on the streets in police cruisers 24 hours each day with officers trained to use them. Each community has altered it thinking about keeping weapons at the ready.
All three local police departments, along with other departments in the area, are training together, sharing equipment and arranging mutual aid systems to support each other when needed and at much faster response times.
The chiefs agreed that they now have much better communication between their own departments and with the state and federal law enforcement agencies. They also agreed that a major block to even better joint response to disasters is the lack of radio and other communication equipment that allows departments within a city or area to talk to each other. Because each agency uses a different radio frequency or type of equipment, they often cannot communication quickly at the scene of an emergency. To allow Butler County emergency departments to communicate would require approximately $12 to $14 million in new equipment.
They also reminded the audience that while the issues are national, the disasters are local. It is a local emergency department that must respond to any incident of terror or attack.
Chief Becker asked that each family prepare as they would for any natural disaster. Keep the same items on hand that might be needed during a bad storm when electrical and communication services might be interrupted for a few days.
Chief Becker said, “Intelligence is by far the best way to fight terrorism.” He asked that citizens be a bit more aware of daily surroundings and report unusual incidents as a way to prevent attacks. He also cautioned that citizens not over-react.
He assured the audience that bio-chemical attacks are meant to promote terror and if the citizens remain calm in the event of such an attack, most will survive since such attacks are effective for only a very short time. Such chemicals would dissipate rapidly.
All three chiefs noted that the tightened budgets at national and state levels are also affecting the local police departments. The extra training, protective equipment and weapons all strain an already over-extended local budget.
Each chief shared a story of their day on 9/11. In Trenton, almost all police and fire personnel were required just to direct traffic around the gas stations as citizens rushed to refuel their vehicles.
Coming from the lessons of 9/11, all area police departments are working more closely together and not only share in the Butler County bomb squad but now have joint quick response teams and are using and plan to increase use of the Butler Technical Center’s new police training center.
The next in the series of Chamber luncheons is slated for Thursday, April 3 at 11:30 in the Forest Hills Club House and will feature Stan Chesley, senior attorney at Waite, Schneider, Bayless and Chesley. His subject will be “Smoking Gun – documents and how they affect corporations involved in lawsuits.”
To make reservations, call the Chamber at 513-422-4551 or visit the chamber website at www.mmvchamber.org. Cost for members is $15 if prepaid, $18 at the door. Non- members pay $30.
Story Contributed By Ann Mort