Sun, Jan. 26

Regional Special Response Unit gets gear

Seconds make the difference when police are engaged in a standoff or someone threatens suicide. Recently, Cottonwood Police called on its Special Response Unit to approach a barricaded house with a suicidal man in an effort to make contact.

Rapid response to a potential suicide, barricade or hostage situation are key reasons the Cottonwood Police Department is assembling a regional team with special training to stabilize a situation and open lines of communication. The nearest trained special weapons and tactics team is hours away in Prescott.

Cottonwood Manager Brian Mickelsen says the City Council is very supportive of the new organization, "We are getting bigger," Mickelsen says in describing community growth. The new city budget includes $15,000 for the team's development.

Chief Doug Bartosh has gotten a financial boost to help with the costly equipment involved in the special response unit.

The Triple Nine Foundation, an Arizona non-profit organization, provides funding for special equipment for cash-strapped police agencies around the state; $40,000 from the Foundation will pay for protective equipment including ballistic vests, helmets and rifle plates and goggles. The Foundation earlier provided funds for Cottonwood PD to acquire a police K-9 drug dog.

In addition, the foundation is replacing an aging Thermal Imaging Device. Thermal imaging is used by the Fire Department to detect fire or the location of persons in a burning building. The device is also used by law enforcement to identify the exact location of a barricaded suspect.

The gear will not only support Cottonwood Police but the entire Verde Valley, through availability of a throw-phone and access to a SWAT team.

A throw-phone is a costly one-way communication link designed to make contact with a hostile subject, but ensure privacy for sensitive negotiations. A small phone receiver is mounted in a hardened plasticized box so it can be literally thrown into situation.

In an earlier Cottonwood situation, police lost contact from a barricaded apartment after one of the subjects walked out with the only communication, a cell phone.

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