VALHALLA, N.Y. – Police officers from departments all over Westchester county will be ready to properly handle unruly groups of protesters after going through a simulated riot training scenario in Valhalla this week.
“All officers are properly trained on how to handle these situations when they go through the academy but it’s always best to do things like this every now and then as a refresher,” said Kieran O’Leary, a spokesperson with the Westchester County Department of Public Safety.
The scenario was a mutual-aid drill hosted by the county police in Valhalla on Tuesday. O’Leary said representatives from almost every police department in the county were present at the drill. In the scenario, current members of the county’s police academy played the role of a group of protesters who eventually turned unruly and needed to be properly removed from the area. The fake protesters were given chairs, signs and even tennis balls to represent rocks or other debris that could be tossed at officers.
O’Leary said that the drill was chosen as part of a cycle but was appropriate given the current times.
“We do a drill like this every year so the scenario changes as part of a cycle to keep each one fresh but with things like the whole occupy movement today this one was very timely,” O’Leary said.
In late January, county police removed a group of CSEA protesters from the grounds of the Westchester Medical Center after gathering without a permit. No physical force was necessary during the incident.
The goal of a mutual-aid drill is to help departments in a major crime scenario where backup from other neighboring departments is needed. In the riot scenario, other departments were called upon as the protests escalated.
“Sometimes it’s a village helping out the town, in other scenarios it could be the town next door helping, the way this plan is designed, no community can on a given tour give up everybody” O’Leary said. “You can’t say well every cop in Mount Pleasant has to leave Mount Pleasant and go someplace else, that’s not going to work so this has everybody kicking in a few bodies and you leave a few at home.”