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Pair of southeastern Connecticut towns form special police team

Waterford Police Special Response Team sweeping through the school.jpg
Brian Scott-Smith
Waterford Police Special Response Team sweep through Quaker Elementary School during an active shooter drill.

A pair of southeastern Connecticut towns have formed a special police response team to respond to challenging calls, like an active school shooting.

The towns of Waterford and Ledyard have been training together for years to prepare for active shooters, like certain SWAT operations.

Waterford Police Chief Marc Balestracci said the team will take a lead role in de-escalation efforts.

“The SRT team has a completely different approach. If the situation warrants it, they slow down, they have negotiators on the teams,” he said. “They try to slow down and communicate with whoever they’re dealing with at that time. If the situation allows. They do have the abilities and training to act as a SWAT team, but their primary focus is de-escalation and peaceful resolution.”

The special response team is made up of around nine officers from each town's police department.

Balestracci said there is value in the two communities working together in this way.

“We’re each responsible for our own manpower costs but as far as equipment now that we’ve signed this inter-local agreement, we can try to seek grant money for training, or we can combine resources for specialized equipment,” Balestracci said.

“Although we’ve trained together, we’ve had to pay for it out of our operating budgets,” he added “So, this allows us to look in different areas and share costs and ultimately it will best equip the team and prepare them.”

Balestracci said they are already in talks with other local police departments to expand the team in the New London County area.

An award-winning freelance reporter/host for WSHU, Brian lives in southeastern Connecticut and covers stories for WSHU across the Eastern side of the state.