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August 14, 2019

South Jersey police department takes active shooter response to new level

Patrol vehicles specially outfitted with all types of tactical equipment to save lives

Police Active Shooters
Glouco Police Vehicle 08142019 Source/Gloucester Township Police Department

Gloucester Township Police Department's new patrol support vehicles are equipped with a portable hydraulic breaching tool. "In an active shooter situation, minutes and even seconds are critical," said township police Chief Harry Earle. "Security measures designed to protect people can greatly hamper police response if officers are not equipped to quickly defeat these necessary security obstacles."

Less than two weeks after 31 people died in separate gun massacres in Texas and Ohio, a South Jersey police department has rolled out two specialty vehicles designed to help thwart an active shooter.

The heavily-equipped patrol support vehicles deployed by the Gloucester Township Police Department will be available to hit the streets 24-7 in the event of a mass shooting in the municipality, according to Chief Harry Earle.

In announcing his force's latest additions for active shooter preparation – both in tactical equipment and training for its officers – Earle said it was important his personnel was not outgunned by potential gunmen.

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"Unfortunately, I do not believe that I need to explain why it is so important that we continue to prepare for and work to prevent mass shooting incidents," Earle said in a news release. "Please know as well that despite the most recent attacks in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio our commitment to active shooter readiness has been ongoing for decades - which includes GTPD leading active shooter training both for new police officers at the Camden County Police Academy, and in-service training for officers from throughout the state."

Earle said his department relies on a 3RD GEAR Policing Philosophy – 1st GEAR: suppression or arrest, 2nd GEAR: Prevention, and 3rd GEAR: Intervention – to be prepared for and take action in the event of a mass shooting.

Glouco Active Shooter 08142019Source/Gloucester Township Police Department

The vehicles are also equipped with ladders, additional weapons, a ballistic shield, ballistic blanket, ample supply of pre-loaded rifle and handgun magazines, night vision equipment, tactical cameras, and stretchers/sleds to assist in removing victims. At least one of the vehicles will be available 24-7, police said.

"We have continually evaluated and improved our weapon capability, as it was important that we were not outgunned by those who desired to kill," Earle said. "However, our review of past active shooter incidents found that it was most important that we must have the proper equipment beyond firearms to effectively respond to such terrible events."

One of the most significant areas of concern was responding officers' lack of access to buildings or rooms at the scene of an active shooter.

The department determined more advanced breaching equipment was needed to save lives. Earle pointed to a list of shooting tragedies that presented such a challenge: the 2006 Amish Schoolhouse in Lancaster County, the 2007 Virginia Tech Campus, the 2013 Washington Navy Yard and the 2019 Virginia Beach Municipal Complex.

The patrol support vehicles are equipped with portable hydraulic breaching tools able to get through hardened commercial doors. Other equipment includes additional weapons, a ballistic shield, ballistic blanket, ample supply of pre-loaded rifle and handgun magazines, night vision equipment, tactical cameras, and stretchers/sleds to assist in removing victims.

"These vehicles were not purchased and outfitted as a result of the most recent mass killings," Earle said. "The original planning for these vehicles and equipment began in late 2017, were purchased in 2018, and outfitted this year."

Earle said he will continue to regularly convene the township's Threat Assessment Group to help prevent and improve its preparedness for an active shooter event.

Here's a list of the tactical equipment carried by the new patrol vehicles:

• Ballistic Shield

• Pre-Loaded Weapon Magazines – (Handgun and Rifle)

• Pepperball Launching System (Less Lethal Weapons System)

• Forced Entry Back Pack Kit

• Hurst StrongArm Hydraulic Entry Tool

• Tool box with Miscellaneous Hand Tools

• 12.5-foot Expandable Ladder

• 6-foot A-Frame (Step) Ladder

• Emergency Scene / Detour signs

• Supply of Emergency Road Flares

• Portable Scene and Lights

• Water Rescue Buoy with Rescue Rope

• Flashlights

• Fire Extinguishers

• Shotgun

• Patrol Rifle

• Dog Snare

• Portable Tent

• Traffic Safety cones

• Pike Pole

• Pick Head Axe

• Flat Head Shovel

• Bug spray / Bee Spray / Sun Block

• Safety Glasses / Gloves

• Dry Erase Board

• Crime Scene Items

• Crime Scene Curtain

• Crime Scene Tape (Red, Yellow, White)

• Tactical Pole Camera

• Night vision Thermal Imaging Cameras (Fixed and Porable)

• Binoculars

• Reeves Stretcher

• Command Post Computer Station

• Command Board

• Evacuation Skid

• Ballistic Blanket

• Emergency Blankets

• Knox Box Key System