The Harker Heights and Belton police departments are joining forces to better serve residents.
Police Chief Mike Gentry asked Harker Heights City Council members Tuesday to approve an interlocal joint tactical response and training agreement with the city of Belton.
The council approved an interlocal agreement for the emergency sharing of tactical resources with Bell County and the cities of Killeen, Temple, Belton, Nolanville, Morgan’s Point Resort, Troy and Copperas Cove in 2006.
“We have had a team in place before I arrived and since my arrival in 1995, we have developed and trained a special tactical response team made up of select members of the police department and the fire department that has both tactical and negotiations capabilities,” Gentry said, adding that the team has been operational in its current configuration since 1996. “This team is specially trained and equipped to deal with the most dangerous of circumstances, including serving high-risk arrests or warrants, fugitive apprehensions, the handling of barricaded persons, protective operations, hostage situations and special surveillance missions.”
During its history, the team has responded to each of these operational situations within city limits and has been called upon to assist other agencies as needed, including the U.S. Marshals Service, Killeen and Belton police departments, U.S. Secret Service, the Bell County Organized Crime Unit and the Army, Gentry said.
“The Belton chief and I have discussed the benefits of adding trained and qualified members of their police department to our team in order to augment available resources to benefit our city and also making the team available for use in cases requiring the special capabilities in Belton,” he said.
The Belton Police Department currently does not have a fully capable tactical team, although several of its members have been adequately trained and equipped.
Gentry said both chiefs agree there is a mutual benefit to the residents of both cities to operate as a joint team and the function would be enhanced with the participation of both departments.
Mayor Pro Tem Hal Schiffman asked Gentry whether this agreement would involve cost-sharing.
According to Gentry, the agreement, as written, provides that either department may request the resources of the team and it further provides officers participating to retain their employment status with their respective agency and each agency will continue to be responsible for compensation of their personnel in the normal matter. The agreement also addresses liability and insurance concerns.