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Open the gate! State police and soldiers train together for riot control
Story by Sgt. Michael V. Broughey, Photos by Spc. Cody Kilduff Massachusetts National Guard 65th Press Camp Headquarters
NEW BRAINTREE, Mass - Roleplayers gathered acting as protesters on the streets of a mock neighborhood on the grounds of the Massachusetts State Police Academy in New Braintree, Mass. They blocked the street with debris, held up their signs, and chanted their cause as the State Police Officers and National Guard Soldiers approached in formation. The confrontation would last hours in the cold rain on Monday morning here as Vigilant Guard kicks off for the week, which includes a full spectrum of military and civilian law enforcement exercises designed to test the cooperation between local military and civilian organizations.
The State Police began detaching files of troopers to clear the debris and once the street was clear they began advancing as one long row with batons in hand. The roleplayers were instructed to agitate the situation, simulating a peaceful protest gone wrong. When one of roleplayers began disturbing the peace and became violent, their squad leader would call out, "Open the gate!" and a column of officers waiting behind the front line would advance on the protester and place them under arrest while maintaining a circle of officers to watch all sides. These arrest teams must quickly retract behind the front row for safety once the arrest is made.
As the officers push the protest down the street a scenario unfolds where a house is being broken into by the crowd forcing the officers to break off from the group and circle the house. This required more manpower at the original formation with the protesters so the Soldiers of B Co., 1st Battalion 182nd Infantry Regiment advanced with a line of Soldiers wielding plastic shields. The Soldiers joined ranks with the State Police and added arrest teams of their own, doubling the size of the riot control group as roleplayers continued to throw debris at the formation.
Pfc. Jared Weiner, a Soldier from Newton, Mass., remarked on his first training mission as part of a riot control team, "I was surprised how difficult it was at first to stay in line with the police but as time went on we got better," he said. "I expect us to be way more prepared for when this really happens," he said.
The State Police and National Guard riot control team continued to prevent the roleplayers from running around behind them or charging between their front line as a group of State Police Officers approached on horseback. The calvary moved in from the flank to push the crowd along the street. The New Braintree Fire Department also responded to a fire that was a controlled burn in the middle of the neighborhood, filling the air with smoke around the mock neighborhood. Loud static noise played from the loudspeaker of a tactical police vehicle to further convince the protesters to disperse.
Trooper Kaleshia Estabrook, of the Northampton Barracks and also a Soldier with the 126th Brigade Support Battalion, was impressed with the equipment and coordination of the Infantry Soldiers, who she said provide a greater security presence for the State Police. "During the Boston Marathon bombing we were pretty well integrated at the T stations but here we were integrating one-to-one in line," she said. "They could fall in and maintain coordination because we use plain language for all our commands in case we work with other local police or from other states," she said.
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