Update On Middleboro Police Officer Injured in Training Exercise
BRIDGEWATER — The Southeastern Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council, Bridgewater Police Chief Christopher Delmonte and Middleborough Police Chief Joseph Perkins provided an update on the Middleborough Police Officer that was injured during a training exercise Wednesday, and the subsequent investigation.
A preliminary investigation indicates that on Wednesday, April 4, the officer was using a 37mm projectile launcher loaded with training rounds to aid in a SWAT training exercise in Bridgewater, when the device exploded in his hands.
The device was a Model 201-Z Federal 1.5 Caliber Gas Gun (using 37mm rounds).
The ensuing investigation by Bridgewater Police indicates that the device malfunctioned in the officers hands while he was training to do his job in the normal performance of his duties.The device broke into several pieces and a portion of the barrel was split in half.
The officer, whose name is not being released publicly, was released from the hospital on Thursday and is back home and in good spirits. He underwent successful surgery on one of his hands and will now begin a rehabilitation and recovery process.
"I am very glad to see that our officer is back home with his family and I would like to thank the staff at Mass. General for the great care that they provided and their hospitality for the many officers and family members that went to visit him," Chief Perkins said. "I would like to commend our officer for his high spirits and professionalism during this unfortunate ordeal. We wish him a speedy recovery and everyone in Middleborough and the 30 communities that SEMLEC represents sends their well wishes and positive thoughts."
The injuries sustained to his left hand include severe lacerations and the permanent partial amputation of one of his finger tips.
The investigation into the incident is still ongoing by the Bridgewater Police Department. The use of the projectile launcher and training rounds used will be suspended by SEMLEC while the investigation remains open.
Other local law enforcement councils and SWAT units will be notified of the situation to help prevent any similar incidents from occurring.
Investigators will be contacting the manufacturer of the projectile launcher and training rounds to determine what went wrong.
"All factors will be looked at, including the age of the device, the training round that was used and whether there were any defects in the products. At this point, all indications are that it was not the officer's error but a defective device that malfunctioned in his hands," Chief Delmonte said. “This is life-saving training and while this incident was not typical, these officers are trained for dangerous situations and the training can sometimes pose inherent risks. These elite SEMLEC officers are part of one of the most highly-trained units in the region, with the singular mission of saving lives during a critical incident. This officer was training to do his job when he was injured in the performance of his duties.”
At approximately 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Bridgewater Police and Fire received a 911 call from a member of SEMLEC SWAT requesting an ambulance for an officer who sustained a hand injury during a training program on the exterior grounds of MCI Bridgewater.
Upon arrival, rescuers found the officer with a serious wound to one of his hands. The officer was treated at the scene and transported by a Bridgewater Fire Department ambulance to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston with injuries that were not believed to be life-threatening.
While not carried by officers in the normal course of their duties, the 37mm launcher is used for a variety of SWAT operations including smoke screens, high visibility flares, decoy noisemaker rounds, “Flash Bang” style stun projectiles, and training rounds that emit smoke and/or noise.
At this time, it is not clear when or if the officer would be able to return to his duties.
--Bridgewater Police, Middleboro Police and SEMLEC joint release