Rock County law enforcement works to streamline mutual aid response

Rock County law enforcement works to streamline mutual aid response

Rock County law enforcement agencies are setting up a system to streamline their emergency response and save time in case of a crisis.

The system is called MARS, or the Mutual Aid Response System. It’s similar to MABAS, or the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System, already used by fire departments statewide.

Representatives from the agencies met at Blackhawk Technical College on Wednesday to sign the agreement. About a dozen groups, including police departments, the Sheriff’s department and the 911 Call Center, will sign on.

During a big emergency, city of Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt knows he’ll need to request help from other agencies.

“There are times when I have a single officer working,” he said. “This is crucial for me.”

But calling on the individual agencies can take time that could be better spent elsewhere.

“Those seconds matter,” Marquardt said. “So you can move onto those lifesaving tasks without worrying about which officers from which jurisdictions do I need to get here right now.”

During an emergency in the county, the commander on scene currently has to call on help from agencies in other jurisdictions individually.

“If I’m having an active shooter situation and I get on the radio and say, ‘Give me everything,’ (the 911 center) can’t do that,” village of Clinton Police Chief David Hooker said. “Plus, what is everything?”

But MABAS cards used by fire departments in the county for years streamline the process by creating a sort of shorthand for calling on help, organizing levels with predetermined agencies according to types and the severity of situations.

“Predetermining those resources allows the incident commander to focus on the emergency at hand,” Beloit Fire Chief Bradley Liggett said.

Through MABAS, the Beloit Fire Department either provides or receives aid about 50 times a year.

“The quicker you can get resources on scene, it reduces the impact of the emergency,” Liggett said.

Now that Rock County law enforcement agencies are adopting the similar MARS, Marquardt believes the system has the potential to make all the difference.

“I can just say give me levels 1-3 of MARS activation, and I’m done with that,” he said. “When you think about the scope of an active shooter incident and all the resources that takes … we absolutely need help there quickly. And this is the best way to shortcut that process.”

Marquardt said law enforcement agencies will work on setting up the system this spring.