Members of the Vermont State Police Tactical Services Unit received praise Thursday at a ceremony at the Statehouse in Montpelier. Sixteen members of the team recently returned from a week-long deployment in northern New York, aiding in part of the 23-day manhunt for escaped prison inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat.
“I slept better every single night knowing that we had the best of the best ensuring we were going to get the job done,” said Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vermont.
The unit specializes in extremely high-risk situations such as hostage negotiations or confronting barricaded subjects.
“Most of us were working 24 hours a day, getting sleep when we could,” recalled Sgt. Cory Lozier, who was part of the deployment.
Lozier said he and his team members had to bushwhack through the dense and buggy wilderness and thick swamps of parts of the Adirondack park, clearing seasonal camps and other potential hiding places alongside more than a thousand officers from federal agencies and departments across New York.
“Our tactical team was asking to go and we were very honored and privileged to go over and help New York,” Lozier said.
In the end, no members of law enforcement or the public were hurt when authorities captured Sweat and killed Matt. Border patrol agents surrounded and shot Matt quite close to where the Vermonters were positioned, Vermont State Police Commander Col. Tom L’Esperance said.
“If I can bring 16 troopers over and 16 troopers back, that’s a job well done,” said Lt. Mike Manley of the Vermont State Police, who oversees the unit. “Every time we work as a group, plan something out, and execute it, it makes the team better.”
Manley said this was the largest-ever deployment of the tactical team he is aware of in the history of the Vermont State Police.