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Delta Police bow out of regional SWAT team

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A decade after it was launched, a municipal police emergency response team has folded.

This month, the Municipal Integrated Emergency Response Team (MIERT) has disbanded, leaving Delta, Port Moody, Abbotsford and New Westminster looking for new partnerships. MIERT, often referred to by the public as the SWAT team, was formed in 2003 to respond to high-risk situations in all four cities. These included drug busts, gang-related arrests and armed stand-offs.

The team was composed of officers from each of the participating municipal police departments.Delta says it is now partnering, at least in the short term, with the Vancouver emergency response team to augment an eight-member team already based in Delta.

While the RCMP is closer – policing the neighbouring community of Surrey – it was felt the temporary partnership with Vancouver was more efficient.

“There was a consulting group that looked at all the avenues we could take,” Const. Ciaran Feenan said. “We believe at this time that Vancouver is our best option.”

Delta spent $390,000 on MIERT last year, and is budgeting the same for its partnership with Vancouver for this year. One of the drawbacks of MIERT was the amount of time needed to get the team in place.

Because crews were often coming from as far away as Abbotsford, it sometimes took a lot of time to get the team completely deployed.

With Vancouver, that response time will be significantly shortened, according to Feenan.

“It’s going to be quicker getting them here,” Feenan said Monday.

Delta currently has on-staff negotiators as well as an eight-member emergency response team. In the longer term, Delta plans to increase the size of its own team so that it doesn’t have to draw from other municipal resources.

Feenan said there won’t be an onerous cost to the added members as they are on duty in other squads anyway and are just deployed to ERT when needed.

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