Aberdeen Proving Ground organizations bolstered the installation’s relationship with Aberdeen during the city’s first “Public Safety Appreciation Day” at Festival Park Aug. 19, 2017.
Personnel with the APG Directorate of Emergency Services, or DES, the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center, and APG Soldiers and senior leaders supported the event, which the Aberdeen Police Department hosted to honor regional public safety personnel. The festivities featured vehicle displays, K-9 demonstrations, information handouts, giveaways, food trucks, and children’s attractions.
APG Senior Commander Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor said he relishes the opportunity to support the community in a way that shows appreciation to emergency responders on and off post. Noting the recent police shootings around the nation, he said, strong partnerships with law enforcement keeps communities safe.
“We have a tremendously good relationship between their police and our police,” he said. “Part of what we are doing here today is really just honoring and celebrating the first responders, who every day risk their lives, to do what they do and protect us.”
According to Taylor, supporting events like this and honoring emergency first responders is a win-win for APG. He said he believes the safety and security of APG starts well outside the gates.
City of Aberdeen Police Chief Henry Trabert thanked Taylor for his continued support.
“APG is such a big part of our community, it always has been,” he said. “The partnership has always been there and I think the relationship has gotten a lot better, which is a great thing.”
Acting Director of Emergency Services, Rick de Oliveira said DES has a Memorandum of Understanding to provide fire and ambulance support to Harford, Cecil and Baltimore counties when needed.
“They are constantly calling us through our dispatch center, our dispatch is directly tied into the county dispatch so we communicate on a regular basis,” he said.
DES Police Chief Joel Holdford added that DES personnel frequently share information with local law enforcement agencies and that DES Military Working Dogs, which are trained to detect explosives, occasionally assist local law enforcement efforts.
“This is a huge benefit to them, because they don’t always have those types of dogs available, and frankly our dogs are some of the best in the world,” Holdford said. “Not only do I have an excellent K-9 program, but I have excellent K-9 handlers.”
DES also works with local maritime units, Holdford said, to help with rescue and recovery missions.
In keeping with the tradition of commitment support, on Thursday, Sept. 7, Taylor will host an opioid summit at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Chemical Defense, or MRICD. During this event, experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration, State of Maryland, local law enforcement and health care professionals will partner with the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense, MRICD and the U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center to present topics of discussion that will address prevention and treatment; protection and detection of first responders, investigators and working dogs; and tracking methods.
“We have the world’s best experts when it comes to chemical agent counter measures,” Taylor said. “We have a lot that we can share.”
Cpl. Brandon Greene, with the DES Special Reaction Team, showed attendees a tactical rescue vehicle and equipment. Greene said attendees, especially children, were most interested in the riot shield that SRT members use as a protection device.
“We are letting them see the capabilities of the rescue vehicle,” he said. “We are just happy to participate and be out in the public.”
Walter Eggers, a contractor with ATC, showed visitors a Stryker. He described this vehicle as the “eyes and ears of the Army.”
“This is designed so that on the battlefield this vehicle will pull forward, hide itself and start searching for the enemy,” he said. “That’s its sole job, it’s not designed to engage the enemy; it just has defensive weapons.”
The APG Fire and Emergency Services Division displayed a fire engine and a crash vehicle, a specialized vehicle designed for use in aircraft rescue.
Staff Sgt. Kevin Ellis, with the APG Garrison Headquarters and Headquarters Company showed attendees the military helmet car, a vehicle used in parades and other community outreach events.
“We saw veterans who have served in Vietnam, they were happy to see some green suiters,” he said. “It was nice to give back to people who have served previously.
Enhancing quality of life
Event organizer Cpl. O. W. Jansen III, with the City of Aberdeen Police Department, thanked APG for its support.
“Although we may wear different uniforms and operate different vehicles, we will always work together to defend our way of life,” he said. “Mutual cooperation between the base and the city enhances that quality of life in this region for all people while bolstering support for our military.”