Watertown Police Chief Edward Deveau said he can finally talk publicly about the shootout with the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects, and he gave the Town Council some details.
Monday night, Deveau talked about the shootout during the Police Department’s budget hearing in front of the Council. When asked by Councilor Aaron Dushku about the lessons learned from the incident in April 2013, Deveau said his officers have changed some of their training in reaction to the incident.
As an example, the Watertown Police officers now train more with the rifles in their patrol cruisers.
“One example, one of the things – I’d say this was was my responsibility, it was my fault – we have patrol rifles in vehicle. When we got those I told the officers, ‘we’re putting them in but don’t touch them unless you need them. Don’t friggin’ touch those unless you need them,'” Deveau said. “Well, they needed them that night and what we didn’t do – they didn’t touch them – they didn’t have that muscle memory to get it in and get it out and do that.”
At the beginning of each shift officers undergo training, and using the rifles is now one of the trainings, Deveau said.
He will talk more about what was learned and what happened during the shootout at a future meeting.
Deveau and other shared the lessons from the shootout with other law enforcement officers and agents, but only behind closed doors. On Friday, the jury sentenced Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the Boston Marathon Bombings, so the chief said he could now share some details.
“These are the sort of things we talked about when Captain (Raymond) DuPuis and I were asked to speak to law enforcement behind closed doors because we couldn’t speak about it until the trial was over,” Deveau said. “I wouldn’t have even just told you that story if the trial was not over, because I didn’t want that to be used at the trial.”
Deveau also talked about the other issues facing the Police Department, including dealing with an increasing problem of heroin and opiate addictions, domestic violence and trying to get more police on the street.
Right now, Watertown usually has four officers and a supervisor on the street at one time, which is the minimum manning for a shift, Deveau said.
“If we could get more people on patrol we could get more people into Coolidge Square, the malls,” Deveau said. “There is no opportunity to put an officer on a bike and get them on the bike paths.”
Two additions for the next fiscal year, which starts July 1, is a school resource officer at Watertown Middle School and the return of the Cops for Kids Program.
“I am absolutely thrilled about the Cops for Kids program. I was thrilled with the program when I participated in it,” said Councilor Ken Woodland.
Councilor Vincent Piccirilli said he has heard nothing but positive things about the Watertown Police.
“In the age when there is no shortage about news about misbehaving police departments, I have never heard had anything but the greatest comments from residents about level of professionalism and about the people in your department,” Piccirilli said.
The Watertown Police are also going for department accreditation, which Deveau said he hopes to have soon. Very few communities have reached accreditation, and Town Council President Mark Sideris applauded Deveau and the department for going for it.
“I am proud that you took the steps that not many communities do and go for accreditation,” Sideris said. “You are taking steps to make an excellent department more excellent.”