Team boosts IDOC's emergency response capability

Members of the FCRT on IDOC's shooting range
FCRT members undergo advanced weapons training

BOISE, January 6, 2012 — The Idaho Department of Correction has a new team to call on in the event of a serious incident like a facility disturbance or a search for a high risk fugitive. It’s called the Field Community Response Team. It’s comprised of about 40 probation and parole officers and community work center staff from every probation and parole district in Idaho.

FCRT members will undergo specialized training quarterly so they will be ready to provide assistance in a variety of areas. For example, during a facility disturbance, FCRT might provide security around the facility’s perimeter. FCRT might also help transport high risk offenders or investigate tips during a search for a high-risk escapee or an absconder.

“It’s a good use of resources that hopefully we won’t use often. But when we need it, they’re going to be there, and we haven’t exhausted a lot of resources to get that team ready,” says Henry Atencio, deputy chief of IDOC’s Bureau of Probation and Parole.

FCRT is divided into four sub-teams. The northern team covers District 1  (Coeur d’Alene) and District  2 (Lewiston). The southwestern team covers District  3 (Caldwell) and District  4 (Boise). The south-central team covers District  5 (Twin Falls). The eastern team covers District  6 (Pocatello) and District  7 (Idaho Falls).

“This team is global for our department, which means they’re a resource for everyone—CWC, district or one of our institutions,” says one of the team’s creators, Christina Iverson, supervisor of IDOC’s fugitive recovery unit. “They’re here for everyone.”

IDOC has already put the southwestern team to use. In the days leading up to the November 18 execution of Paul Ezra Rhoades, IDOC #26864, FCRT members helped provide security around the perimeter of the South Boise Prison Complex. Additionally, on the day of the execution, members helped provide security in the areas established for pro- and anti-death penalty   demonstrations at the entrance to the complex.

“The work they did was very much appreciated by leadership,” says IDOC Community Work Center Operations Manager Al Ramirez, who helped lay the groundwork for FCRT starting in October 2010.

At FCRT’s first statewide meeting in Boise on Sept. 26-28, the team’s training focus was on advanced firearms use. The next training session will likely center on learning the layout of IDOC’s correctional facilities, especially outbuildings like warehouses and maintenance shops. “They need to know what that looks like, especially at night when we’re clearing that, looking for a possibly armed subject in those rooms, in those different warehouses that we’re just not familiar with,” Atencio says.

In addition to providing IDOC with a new way to respond to emergencies, Iverson says she likes the way FCRT unites the department. She says the point was driven home during the team’s first statewide meeting when members gathered for weapons training at IDOC’s firing range.

“We didn’t just see Community Corrections, we didn’t just see the CWCs out there or the prisons,” Iverson says. “Everybody was out there working on the same goal, and that was wonderful to be part of that.”

Iverson says FCRT members are expected to be well-rounded professionals who work well with the public and have an ability to de-escalate situations in which emotions are running high. Deputy Chief Atencio says members must also be high energy people who are ready and willing to respond to a serious incident at a moment’s notice.

“The community response team is another great example of our agency being proactive, being safety minded in terms of how we respond to emergencies,” Atencio says.

Story published: 01/06/2012
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