Local police officers are among the legions of law enforcement personnel participating in a massive manhunt to capture a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.
Rowley Sgt. David Sedgwick and Amesbury Sgt. William Scholtz were among area police officers who aided state and federal agencies in the search for 19-year old Cambridge resident Dzhokhar Tsarnaev after he and his late brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, following the fatal shooting of MIT police officer Sean Collier, 26, of Somerville. MBTA transit police officer Richard H. Donahue Jr., 33, was injured shortly afterward in a firefight.
Boston and surrounding suburbs were shut down as heavily-armed police began a search for the suspects late Thursday. It continued into Friday, halting public transportation and shutting down businesses and colleges around the city.
Amesbury police Chief Mark Gagnon said Scholtz has been involved in the bombing investigation since the onset, after first being called on Monday night. Scholtz is part of NEMLEC’s Incident Management Team, which deals with issues including communications. He was also called in Thursday, not long after the FBI released the suspects’ pictures.
“Sgt. Scholtz was there from 6 o’clock (Thursday) night to 6 o’clock (Friday) morning,” Gagnon said. “He was manning the radio all night as this whole thing was going down.”
Sedgwick, of Rowley, was also called in on Monday night and returned Thursday, Rowley police Chief Robert Barker said. He was at the scene yesterday, as well. Barker said NEMLEC works through multiple platoons, which have been rotating in and out of the crime scene areas since Monday night as needed.
Sedgwick’s specialty with NEMLAC is as a hostage negotiator, Barker said, but he added that he had no information as to where he was stationed yesterday, only that he was there.
The Essex County Sheriff’s Department also sent personnel to the scene yesterday to assist, according to its spokesman Maurice Pratt. “We did send four deputies over to Watertown to help out,” Pratt said. “They’re doing whatever the lead investigators ask them to do. And our K-9 is on standby to go to help if needed.”
The New Hampshire State Police were also deployed to Boston, Gagnon said, including Salisbury native and New Hampshire Trooper Gary Ingham, Jr. and his K-9 officer. The deployment was made at the request of the Massachusetts State Police, in support of the ongoing security efforts in Boston and Watertown.
Like Barker, Gagnon praised NEMLEC as a vital resource that augments local public safety agencies, giving small communities extensive law enforcement tools when needed. Begun in 1963, the council is currently a consortium of about 53 municipal police and sheriffs departments which ban together to offer support and supplement public safety services in a regional partnership.
Including law enforcement agencies from Essex and Middlesex counties, as well as communities north and west Boston, NEMLEC’s sheer numbers are impressive. The consortium can put 2,900 sworn police and 700-plus sworn sheriffs officers on the streets to protect more than 1.6 million people within a 833-mile region, according to the website.
Although not a member of NEMLEC, Georgetown police Chief James Mulligan is familiar with the organization. Mulligan said the group has its own specialty units, such as SWAT teams, detectives, crime scene and computer crime investigators.
Mulligan said without knowing it, those watching the progress of the investigation surrounding the Boston Marathon bombings have seen NEMLEC in action since the tragedy took place on Monday.
“Whenever you’ve seen a bus pull up and a lot of officers pour out in combat gear and guns ready, you were seeing NEMLEC officers being deployed on the scene,” Mulligan said.