MEDINA — The Medina police chief said the department is better prepared to protect VIPs and organize events after a training session with the U.S. Secret Service.
Chief Pat Berarducci said he sought the training in light of the January shooting of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Arizona.
“Obviously the shooting of the congresswoman drew everybody’s attention to that issue … there really is no agency responsible for protecting congressmen when they’re out in the district,” he said.
On Friday, police supervisors, including the chief and detectives, met with four members of the Presidential Protection Detail of the Secret Service — which Berarducci called the “Super Bowl of protection details” — in the multipurpose room in City Hall for a three-hour training class.
“Part of the training looked at incidents that occurred in the past that were captured on video tape, and (the agents) reviewed through their eyes what the problems were,” he said.
Training was two-pronged, covering both personal security and coordinating a large event. It included threat analysis, planning and logistics and instruction on providing protection, the chief said.
Whether a visit from a member of congress, a dignitary at Medina Hospital or the president himself, Berarducci said he wanted the department prepared to protect a person and organize security at a large event.
“You never know when you are going to get a call like that,” he said. “It may be a citizen you need to protect, a judge or a public official. Now we have a better idea of how to prepare and organize for that type of operation.”
The training also was attended by Service Director Nino Piccoli, Medina Hospital Director of Security Jim Bigam and Medina High School Assistant Principal Andy Brenner.
Part of the training included coordinating communication between police and other departments and institutions.
“We would assist law enforcement in whatever they needed,” Piccoli said. “The police department would take the lead and handle all the details from the secret service, and we would get orders from the police department.”
Internally, Berarducci said that detectives typically do the bulk of planning protection detail, while patrol supervisors organize uniformed officers.
Berarducci said event planning could be “as simple as if somebody had a heart attack in the middle of the crowd, how to get to them and how to get them out.” It could also involve where to stage a guest or place members of the media.
“I would say the event planning would be an even bigger demand for us than even the personal security side of it,” he said.
He said the department plans to work with the Secret Service again. The agents, from the Cleveland Office of Secret Service, brought the course to Medina without any cost to the department, Berarducci said.
“These guys are the best at it, so when I found out we were able to bring down four guys from Presidential Detail, I couldn’t pass it up,” he said.
Contact Lisa Hlavinka at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.