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Police cement mutual aid pact
Thursday, February 10, 2005
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WESTFIELD - The city has entered into a formal mutual aid agreement with Southampton that lays out a framework for how the two police departments would work together during an emergency.

Police Chief John A. Camerota said yesterday state law already allows a police department, upon request of another, to enter that jurisdiction and retain its police powers to assist.

The agreement, however, approved by the City Council last week, lays out such specifics as which department would be responsible for overtime costs, medical bills, liability, etc.

Westfield, for example, sending officers to Southampton, would be responsible for the first four hours of the officers' pay there, Camerota said.

After four hours, Southampton would start picking up the tab and vice-versa, he said

The agreement also lays out who retains the authority within each department to initiate or respond to a request for mutual aid.

Although such formal mutual aid requests have been common through Western Massachusetts, Camerota said many of them have expired.

"That's currently on the table with the Western Massachusetts Police Chiefs Association," Camerota said of the expired agreements.

Camerota said he'd like to enter into such formal agreements with all the neighboring communities. The recent agreement with Southampton is the department's only such active agreement, he said.

"There needs to be a sharing of resources," Camerota said. "I think it's happening throughout the state. You can see it with grants. They are pushing for regionalization."

Camerota said Southampton Police Chief David G. Silvernail was given a signed copy of the agreement Tuesday. "It certainly benefits both (municipalities)," Silvernail said yesterday, adding the town and city share a large border as well as sections with the Hampton Ponds area.

Silvernail said Southampton has active mutual aid agreements with a number of surrounding communities, including Easthampton, Northampton, Westhampton and Huntington.

Camerota said the agreement includes the stipulation that the hosting community retains command.

Asked by At-Large Councilor James R. Adams which municipality stands to benefit the most from the agreement, Camerota said Southampton would.

"We would have more resources to bring to the table," Camerota said, adding that Southampton initiated the agreement.

Westfield has 57 patrolmen to Southampton's 17, Camerota and Silvernail said.
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