Mutual Aid Helped in Shooting Response
At least nine police departments responded to Wednesday's shooting.
Minutes after emergency dispatchers received a report of a shooting at Federal Firearms in South Fayette, a township police officer was on scene.
Moments later, a Collier Township officer arrived to offer backup and help secure the building. That began a cascade of police officers from other area departments who raced to the crime scene to offer mutual aid assistance.
In all, at least nine police departments responded to the call in which a gun shop clerk was seriously wounded by an armed robber. Bridgeville police also arrived at the location while Scott Township officers helped block traffic on Thoms Run Road.
“That’s just the way we work out here,” South Fayette police Chief Louis Volle said. “If something goes bad in the township, you put out a call and everyone comes.”
With large geographic areas to cover, many local police departments rely on neighboring communities to help out in an emergency. Collier police Chief Thomas Devin said his department received help from Jefferson Hills and Elizabeth Township in the aftermath of the LA Fitness shooting nearly two years ago.
“There is no way a township or borough could staff the community to be able to handle every kind of emergency,” Devin said. “Prime example was LA Fitness. (Other police departments) knew we needed help and came to respond. They had the same authority as us at that scene.”
Devin said the mutual aid agreements began in the 1970s when area police chiefs worked out deals to help other departments. He said it is especially useful if one officer is tied up at a crime scene and a traffic accident happens on the other side of the township.
“So we’ll send them out and they’ll handle it,” Devin said. “It helps subsidize the department so the public is not in jeopardy while you’re tied up doing something else.”
As for how quickly the other officers got to the scene Wednesday? Devin said it basically comes down to luck.
“It all depends on where you are at the time,” he said.