Dauphin County rapid response team prepares for future riots

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DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Several agencies in Dauphin County joined forces to create the Dauphin County Rapid Response Team in preparation for future riots.

The team will train to ensure officers are using the best practices in the event a riot breaks out, like the ones that occurred during the protests in response to the death of George Floyd last year.

“Not only could it be lifesaving, it’s certainly time-saving to be able to come together and seamless at as if you were one unit in cohesion,” Captain Atah Akakpo-Martin of the Harrisburg Police, said.

They train even on hot days.

“We don’t get to pick the time and we certainly don’t get to pick the weather, so training is what it is,” Dennis Sorensen, Harrisburg Police Deputy Chief.

Three days of training.

“We have a culmination of several different agencies in Dauphin County that have come together as one,” Adam Kosheba, Lower Paxton Township, Director of Public Safety, said.

For the Dauphin County Rapid Response Team it is all about working as a cohesive unit.

“It’s been authorized by the district attorney to prepare for civil unrest,” Kosheba said.

According to Sorensen, the horses from the Pa. State Police are definitely a force multiplier as they will be for the team. Many skills will be put to the test.

“Dauphin County has done a great thing to try and get all the departments together. It’s one of the things where we don’t work together on a normal basis, but when there is a situation like we had last May, Harrisburg City called out to the other departments and they responded,” Akakpo-Martin said.

In the end, they are preparing for riots to come, focusing on lessons they learned from past ones.

“You don’t take the time to retrain people during the moment and you know that time is of essence and time counts so you need to make decisions quickly. The teams need to understand what you are trying to portray in the moment when there is a crisis,” Akakpo-Martin said.

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