Holyoke Police Officers to Aid Puerto Rico Text Size

A group of bilingual Holyoke Police officers will be deployed to Puerto Rico to help supplement law enforcement agencies on the island in the wake of Hurricane Maria. The request for officers came through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, a national emergency management mutual aid system. 

Holyoke Police Chief James Neiswanger, and Lieutenant James Albert, along with members of the Police force, have been instrumental in this on going effort for support. 

Recently, the first requests hit Massachusetts police forces.  Albert said at least a dozen officers from the Holyoke department volunteered. Even though Baker’s office announced only eight from Holyoke, Albert said more will probably end up going.

“This is law enforcement officers helping law enforcement officers,” he said. “They love being able to do something. Many of these guys have family down there and they are concerned, so this gives them an opportunity to help.”

All Holyoke officers will deploy in their Holyoke uniforms and will use their own equipment and firearms, Albert said. They will be completely self-sufficient when they hit the ground. Housing and transportation are being arranged by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

While the specifics of the program are still being worked out, Albert said the preliminary understanding is each Holyoke officer will be paired with a Puerto Rican officer. The force multiplying approach will dramatically increase the power and effectiveness of these pairings. 

Holyoke officers will be deployed based on 15 day intervals, these groups will consist of 3 police officers at a time. These officers come from all areas of the Holyoke Police; from supervisors to patrol. In addition, all of these officers are trained in search and rescue.

The idea is to relieve officers on the island who have been working since Hurricane Maria swept across the island Sept. 20. Many have been working continuously since “day one,” as Albert put it. This will give them some time off to take care of their own family issues without jeopardizing security.

See Governor Baker’s office announcement here:

Posted on October 6, 2017 by