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City police,LAPD to join hands for capacity building

Downing expressed his desire for an exchange of SWAT teams for training.

Written by Sagnik Chowdhury | Mumbai |
December 9, 2013 12:26:16 am

The Mumbai Police and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) are set to collaborate through exchange programmes for building expertise and capability in counter-terrorism,community policing and rescue operations in mass-casualty scenarios,according to top officers from both agencies.

After the first two-day India-US dialogue on homeland security,a conference of police chiefs in Delhi last week,Michael Downing,Deputy Chief,Counter-terrorism,LAPD,met with Mumbai Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh in Mumbai on Saturday and discussed the scope of building such ties.

“We spoke of collaboration between the Mumbai Police and the LAPD,and Downing expressed his desire for an exchange of SWAT teams for training. We are ahead of them in terms of community policing,and maintaining law and order,but they are highly advanced in terms of counter-terrorism equipment and expertise. Coastal policing and rescue in mass casualty scenarios were some of the other areas we focused on,” Singh said.

Speaking to Newsline ahead of his meeting with Singh,Downing said,“We had some initial conversations at the Delhi conference about perhaps doing an exchange between our SWAT teams. We also talked about how it would be interesting to discuss exchange with our units that do outreach and engagement with communities and leaders of diaspora and inter-faith communities. When police from LA and Mumbai can come together,it helps build our thinking,our ideas and approach to situations”

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On the lessons that US law enforcement agencies learned from the 26/11 attacks,Downing said,“After the attacks,I led a delegation in 2009. I brought 10 people,five from my department in Los Angeles and five from Las Vegas Metropolitan police to try to understand how a city of 18-19 million people dealt with something so horrific. We brought back a presentation on lessons learned,and shared it with American law enforcement — specifically the 64 major cities in the US. As a result,we developed national initiatives — one being the MACTAC or the Multi Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities Tactic,combined with developing mass casualty capability,which we didn’t have before.”

Downing said,“The Delhi experience was fascinating. I think I walked away with the idea that we have more in common. We talked about things that we talk about at home in LA every day — maritime security,terrorism,organised crime,critical infrastructure protection,transit… We talked about doing exchanges in Hyderabad with our bomb squads. They had a horrific bicycle explosion this year,and I’m interested in sending my bomb-techs to look at the techniques,the approaches and the capabilities of your policing bomb-techs.”

Asked about his assessment of the counter-terrorism capabilities of Indian police forces,the LAPD veteran said,“I’ve seen what has changed from when Mumbai happened,until now,and I’m impressed with what I’ve seen.”

Downing was all praise for the Mumbai Police’s new social media surveillance initiatives. “They were pretty switched on when they spoke of social media. They knew how many tweet hits they had on a subject,and how many Facebook postings they had relative to a particular subject. This is a new area for all police forces,and not just a challenge for the Indian police,” he said.

Speaking on Mumbai’s coastal security,he said,“Our coasts are vulnerable to intrusion and penetration just as yours. There was good exchange of ideas on how to shore that up and get more people involved.”

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