Officials: Correction Department, Delaware National Guard Leader - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Officials: Correction Department, Delaware National Guard Leaders Discussed Emergency Preparedness

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DOVER, Del. -- Officials in Delaware's Department of Correction and the Delaware National Guard say both entities have recently had discussions about emergency preparedness and capabilities, including "cross-training" for guard members in DoC policies and procedures.

Jayme Gravell, a DoC spokeswoman said the agency has had discussions with Guard leadership in which the idea of "cross-training" Guardsmen to be best prepared for situations like emergencies that might require assistance from outside agencies. She characterized the cooperation as being similar to other partnerships with agencies like Capitol Police and Delaware State Police.

"Our conversations with the National Guard have focused on safe and efficient ways to respond in the event of an emergency," she said.

Lt. Col. Len Gratteri, a Delaware National Guard spokesman, said the Guard's director of military support met with the Department of Correction in late March and discussed capabilities and preparedness.

"We have similar discussions with other state agencies, DEMA in particular, on a routine basis to ensure we are prepared to support the state if need," he said.

During major emergencies like natural disasters or severe weather, the National Guard can be activated to assist in various capacities. Gravell said the Guard could assist in emergencies that was severe enough for a prison to be evacuated, like significant flooding that affected a facility.

Rep. Steve Smyk, a member of the House Corrections Committee, said Delaware guardsmen could be helpful in assisting prisons in an emergency because they are typically well trained for a number of scenarios, including civil disobedience. He noted the discussions were occurring at a time when there is heightened staffing concerns following a hostage situation in February at the Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna, in which a correctional officer died.

However, Smyk noted guardsmen would need to have some additional training in DoC pri to potentially help correction staff with duties.

"We're talking about an institution and an institution that actually concentrates those with a criminal mind," he said. "They're going to have to have special training."

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