ATKINSON — Chief William Baker doesn't want another officer to be shot in the line of duty like Manchester police Officer Daniel Doherty
Baker works for the FBI as an instructor for the LEOKA program, or Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. He taught a four-hour class yesterday in Atkinson to help local officers stay safe while on duty.
"We study cases where officers have been killed or assaulted and learn from them," he said. "The FBI does interviews with surviving officers and offenders, which we share with officers here. We talk about areas of vulnerability with the goal to make officers safer."
There were 63 New Hampshire and Massachusetts officers who attended Baker's class at the Atkinson Country Club. They included officers from Londonderry, Pelham, Salem, Atkinson, Plaistow and the Rockingham County Sheriff's Department.
Baker, who teaches across the Northeast, said this class was especially relevant after the shooting of Doherty last week.
The Manchester police officer is recuperating after being shot multiple times. Myles Webster, 22, of Litchfield was charged in the incident.
"Officer Doherty was shot in a foot pursuit," Baker said. "The goal is to identify lessons learned. For example, in a foot chase, don't run around the same corner or through the same door as a suspect, don't run into the tree line after a suspect. These are the things getting officers killed."
Baker said he provides officers with guidelines on how to react when facing a drawn gun, chasing someone on foot, handcuffing suspects and making routine motor vehicle stops.
All four can end up being dangerous situations, he said.
The class was organized by Officer Kevin Donnelly, who works in Atkinson part time and as a police training coordinator in Massachusetts.
"This is the first-ever session in Atkinson," he said. "With the shooting up in Manchester, it shows this doesn't just happen in big cities. We had this class in Woburn the day after (Officer John Maguire) was shot and killed there. The timing is relevant."
Atkinson Sgt. Patrick Caggiano said residents always say nothing happens in a small town like Atkinson, but police still have to prepare.
"A gun in the hands of a criminal in a city is just as dangerous in the hands of a criminal in Atkinson," he said. "It's just we may have less resources and backup. It's more important in New Hampshire when you are often on your own."
Sheriff Michael Downing attended with 10 of his officers. He said the class reminds them that officers are always in danger on every call.
Rockingham County is seeing more crime than ever before, he said.
"In this county, we have major roadways, Route 93, 495 and 125," he said. "We have a lot of activity. It's no longer just bedroom communities. We have Lawrence, Lowell and Haverhill surrounding us. Times have changed and we're trying to adapt to the changes."
Salem Officer Matt Norcross said the training reminded him not to be complacent.
"It's a reminder that the threat is out there every day," he said. "Salem police have been involved in shootings in past years. In the event of deadly force, a lot of officers are afraid of liability and in that split second, the fear could end your life."
Norcross said he appreciated the FBI coming to Atkinson to train local officers.
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