Delaware National Guard, state police ready to help Baltimore if called

DOVER — As concern over rioting in nearby Baltimore continued Tuesday, the Delaware National Guard prepared itself to support efforts to quell the unrest if needed.

Internal discussions began Monday in Delaware as the situation in Maryland’s largest city escalated to the point of a state of emergency declared by the governor and the state’s National Guard force was mobilized, spokesman Lt. Col. Len Gratteri said.

While no immediate call for help came, Delaware National Guard officials began to examine personnel rosters to confirm availability if needed, and contact guardsmen to confirm the possibility of going into action at some point, officials said.

“We have not been called,” Lt. Col. Gratteri said late Tuesday morning. “However, we are thinking forward and contacting people on our roster to see who is available.”

State police spokesman Sgt. Richard Bratz said the agency is prepared to send officers to Baltimore if need be but that determination will be made only if Maryland officials ask for help.

“We will continue to monitor the situation for any impact it may have on Delaware,” he said. “As of now, we have not received any request from Baltimore or Maryland for any additional services.”

The Delaware National Guard also began an equipment check; a Quick Reaction Force could be deployed within four to eight hours, Lt. Col. Gratteri said, with other personnel dispatched in the hours that followed.

He said the National Guard was in contact with Delaware state agencies in case any issues closer to home arose. The National Guard is part of an Emergency Management Assistance Compact for responders to provide mutual assistance if needed.

The process for readying for a possible call to action was the same as preparation for a looming snowstorm or hurricane, Lt. Col. Gratteri said, with different personnel skill sets and equipment required.

Earlier this month Delaware National Guard members participated in training for response to civil unrest and natural disaster situations, officials said.

Should Maryland request help, the Delaware State Police would send troopers as part of a “coordinated effort,” Sgt. Bratz said. How many would be sent and where they would depart from would depend on the scope of Maryland’s appeal and the judgment of Delaware officials.

Although Baltimore is about 75 minutes away Wilmington, police are not expecting any rioting to spill over to Delaware.

“We don’t anticipate that problem,” he said.

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