WNY emergency responders showcase capabilities at Homeland Security conference

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As the sun emerged across Buffalo Wednesday, the National Homeland Security conference moved from the convention center to Niagara Square.

The move gave law enforcement and other emergency services personnel from Western New York to show off their capabilities and the latest technologies.

Bomb defusing robots, to smaller versions equipped with cameras, to fire power and even brute force were on display to draw a crowd.

“This type of networking that we have, we can get together to see what works, what doesn’t work and learn from the experiences of others,” said Capt. Bill Cranston, of Erie County Sheriff’s Office special services division.

Such information sharing drew hundreds to a breakout session Tuesday, when Orlando Police Chief John Mina shared his department’s experience in deadly mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub.

“These conferences help to perpetuate that consistency with our response to threats and the equipment that we use and the training that we use to help fight crime,” Cranston said. “There’s no substitute for experience, but if I can talk to you about what works well when you handled such and such, then I don’t have to try and reinvent the wheel.”

Most agencies in Erie County — and some in Niagara County — showed off gadgets, some of which have yet to be deployed.

The Buffalo Police Department will soon use on the streets the LRAD, or long range acoustic device. The specialty directional speaker will be used in large crowd and other emergency situations, and could be used during warrant or barricaded services.

“You’re always trading ideas, you’re talking about new training techniques,” said Buffalo Lt. Jeffrey Rinaldo. “It allows us to kind of kick the tires.”

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said years ago, Buffalo would not have been considered for a conference that draws thousands from across the continent.

But it’s also especially appropriate, given the current climate across the world and recent terrorist attacks in England.

“The discussions that are going on here are those that are going to be going on all across North America,” Poloncarz said. “And we have all the best homeland security experts from across North America, 1,500 total, here in Buffalo/Niagara learning from each other.”

Next year’s conference will be held in New York City.


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