HACKENSACK, N.J. – They aren’t as visible as other specialized law enforcement units – which is actually a good thing -- but Bergen County’s Rapid Deployment Force trains just as intensely in case any large protests carry the potential for mass disruptions.
The 143-officer unit – which deals with crowd control – is welcoming more than two dozen new members in September under the command of Palisades Park Police Capt. Anthony Muccio and Teaneck Police Capt. Ken Croonquist.
Heading operations are a trio of local police chiefs: Rutherford’s John Russo, Haworth’s Michael Gracey and New Milford’s Frank Ramaci.
They and their command staff “attend all briefings and are responsible for the day-to-day operations and call-out procedures,” Russo told Daily Voice.
A branch of the Bergen County Chiefs Association, the RDF is funded by an assessment on each department and a one-time contribution that the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office takes from forfeiture money.
Over the course of six days at the Bergen County Law & Public Safety Institute in Mahwah earlier this month, 90 officers received specialized training from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in protest types and actions, legal considerations, responsibilities of mobile field force teams and crowd control methods.
The training, provided by instructors from the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama, “consisted of classroom and hands-on activities designed to enhance officers capabilities to plan for and respond to large crowds and mass gatherings,” Russo said.
Although it hasn't been necessary in Bergen County recently, authorities need to be prepared in case it is, he said.
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