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Local Police In Desert For Training, Not Tourism

The town center of Playas NM, home to the Playas Training and Research Center

SANATOGA PA – Playas NM began as a small company town, built in the 1970s by Phelps Dodge Corp. to support what was then a copper smelting plant. The plant closed in 1999, the smelter was razed, its site reclaimed, and the town and surrounding land were bought by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. Rather than produce metals, Lower Pottsgrove Police Chief Michael Foltz reports, Playas now turns out better-equipped law enforcers.

Foltz and township police Ofc. Ryan Smith recently joined other members of the Montgomery County SWAT Western Region team to participate in six days of intense training at the institute’s Playas Training and Research Center for first responder and counter-terrorism programs. They attended a course titled “Prevention Of And Response To Suicide Bombing Incidents For SWAT,” paid for by federal Homeland Security funding.

Foltz is commander of the county’s western area Special Weapons And Tactics group. It relies on the talents of police officers selected from 11 local municipalities.

The only cost to the township, Foltz told the Board of Commissioners this month (February 2017), was covering its officer’s time to attend the training. Foltz thought it was worth the effort, too, the New Mexico heat notwithstanding. He advised commissioners he “recommends similar training offered through this facility for all officers so long as the funding is available through Homeland Security.”

Board Vice President and Police Committee chairman Stephen Klotz agreed. “We need to take advantage of all the training opportunities out there,” he said.

The Playas sessions were only one of several training exercises in which Lower Pottsgrove officers engaged during January and February, Foltz noted. A list he submitted to commissioners also included:

  • Mandatory in-service training for 2017 by all officers required to maintain their certifications with the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Officers’ Education and Training Commission. Those courses are being taken online;
  • An “Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement” class and standardized field sobriety testing refresher course in Manheim PA, attended by Ofcs. Scott Burnick and Scott Bond. Bond and Burnick logged the township’s highest number of DUI arrests during 2016, Foltz said;
  • “Commercial Motor Vehicle Criminal Interdiction Training” in Newtown PA, attended by Ofc. Kevin Black; and
  • “The Reid Technique of Investigative Interviewing and Advanced Interrogation,” attended by Ofc. James McCue.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 6 meeting):

Photo from WikiMedia

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