A hazardous materials SWAT team which was organized to provide a rapid response to a terrorist attack in Delaware County demonstrated its readiness outside the Government Center on Feb. 22 after 22 police officers were commended by County Council.
Council Chairman Jack Whelan said 15 members of the Level B Hazardous Materials SWAT Team have received specialized training at the US Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Domestic Violence in Anniston, Alabama, at the only federally chartered Weapons of Mass Destruction training facility in the nation.
“Public safety is a top priority of County Council,” Whelan said. “The Level B SWAT Team gives Delaware County law enforcement a rapid strike capability in response to terrorism whether the deployment is to a small setting or where a large number of people may be gathered such as a shopping area, theater or arena, or an industrial location.”
He said all members of the team, under the command of Haverford Township Police Deputy Chief John Viola, Upper Darby Township Capt. Anthony Paparo and Sgt. Joe Hagan, of the Haverford Police Department, have received advanced specialized training at the Philadelphia Police Academy.
The members of the team received commendations from County Council after they were introduced at Council’s weekly public meeting held immediately before the readiness demonstration by District Attorney G. Michael Green. The skilled team includes members of six police departments in the county and from the District Attorney’s Criminal Investigation Division.
1st ad SWAT (2/22/11)
The SWAT Team can work alone or in conjunction with similar units in the region under the auspices of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Terrorism Task Force. The SWAT team is supported by the Delaware County Police Chiefs Association in partnership with DA Green and County Council.
The team is trained to respond to chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive incidents, Whelan said. SWAT Team vehicles, protective uniforms and gear and weapons are stored at a secure site and can be deployed immediately when the team is called into service.
“Be assured that law enforcement in Delaware County is prepared to respond to and confront any emergency which endangers our people,” Whelan said. “We will continue to be vigilant and to explore any new strategies and techniques as they become available to provide for our homeland security here in Delaware County and for the safety of all.”
County Council presented certificates for “distinguished service and exemplary citizenship” to Viola, Paparo and Hagan as well as to SWAT Team members Sgt. Craig Scott, Detective Steve Laughlin and Officers Mark Mouraview, Doug Linker, Steve Zambon, James Headley and Lawrence J. Howard Jr., of Haverford Police Department;
Also, to Detective Dan Lanni and Officers Mike Scott and Sam Ziviello, of Upper Darby Police Department; Corporals Joe O’Donnell and Joe Trigg, of Darby Borough Police Department; and to Sgt. Jason Mark and Officers Mark Smarlz and Brian Gilmore, of Upper Chichester Township Police Department;
And to Tinicum Township Police Department Officer Bill Righter; Yeadon Police Department Officer Shawn Burns; and Detectives Tom Scarpato and Michael Jay, of the DA’s Criminal Investigation Division.