This afternoon, a combined training exercise between the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Services (SSMPS) concluded on Leigh’s Bay Road.
The joint operation between the SSMPS Emergency Services Unit and the OPP Tactical Services Unit is designed to assist both services in coordinating the hand-off procedure from one police service to the other during high-risk situations where extensive back-up is required. More specifically, the rural location of the exercise allows officers who work in an urban environment to practice their skills on forested landscape.
Today’s scenario involved a break-and-enter in a rural area which escalated into a hostage taking of a family member. The goal of the exercise is to achieve the safe release of the hostage through ongoing negotiation between the officers and the offender.
With incident commanders and negotiators in the mobile command unit and the tactical team on site, the exercise involves a large team with officers in multiple locations. Initially trained by the Metro Toronto Emergency Task force, the officers are equipped with specialized firearms, body armor, tools and vehicles.
Although the tactical team is used frequently in Sault Ste. Marie to deal with drug related incidents, there is always a need for officers to hone in on their skills.
“It’s important that they train on a regular basis and keep their skills at current levels should something like this happen,” said SSMPS Constable Troy Miller. “The level of response is elevated due to the risk of weapons and therefore gunfire and that’s why the tactical team would handle situations like this.”
The exercise is one of two major training exercises per year. The next exercise will take place in the fall.
For more information on The SSMPS Emergency Services Unit, please visit their website.