Chambersburg Special Emergency Team Debated


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Special Emergency Team within the Chambersburg Police Department train monthly and deal with special tactics, including hostage and suicide situations.

"We had a team for a little over 20 years," said Chief David Arnold. "We were deployed 70 times, and those 70 times, there was no major injury or death."

The team was inactive for about a year, but the borough council voted to bring it back last month.

Some members of the council say the SET team isn't necessary in Chambersburg, and that they'd rather have more officers out patrolling the streets. On the other hand, the police department said they need it in case an emergency situation were to happen.

"We have at least half of our council, and maybe even more than that, that would really like to see police officers out and more engaged with not only business owners in the downtown area, but also in residential areas," said Allen Coffman, President of the Chambersburg Borough Council.

"If you just send an officer to the door, and he knocks, and it's just him and one other guy at the back door, and now the guys inside have a weapon or multiple weapons, those officers could be killed if it's not a tactical response," Arnold said.

Council members argue that the SET teams are deployed on average between two to three times per year, and that Pennsylvania State Police could help them out instead with their two SET teams, if an extreme case were to happen.

"They've assured us that if we use them, their reaction time would be equal to the reaction time of our own team here in Chambersburg," Coffman said.

"My question to those folks who say get rid of this is, what's the alternative?" Coffman added. "How do you deal with your response to these critical incidents in a timely and professional status, with the goal being ending the incident without death or injury of the public or the police?"

The issue could be brought up for another vote at the next council meeting but as of now, it is not on the council agenda.

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