News MPS' Defensive Tactics Team celebrates decades of teaching colleagues how to stay safe on the job

Q&A with veteran team member Antoinetta “Tonie” DeAngelis, Greenfield District Court Chief Probation Officer
  • Massachusetts Probation Service

Media Contact for MPS' Defensive Tactics Team celebrates decades of teaching colleagues how to stay safe on the job

Coria Holland, Communications Director

Mass Probation Service Defensive Tactics Team

Front Row: PO Joseph Zuccaro, Core Competency Manager John Walsh, PO Tom Gauger, PO Gina Ryan, PO Lynn Clifford, ACPO Evelyn Doherty-Terfry, PO Jennie Galvin

Back Row: ACPO Anthony Gigliotti, CPO Kevin McClerklin, PO Tawauka Bryant, ACPO Daniel Sullivan, Asst. Supervisor Lisa Hickey, Deputy Commissioner Pamerson Ifill, CPO Antoinetta Deangelis, PO Patrick Princi, PO Hanh Ngyuen, FACPO Mark Costa, APO Jason Ojeda, Court Services Coordinator Max Bolles, ACPO Marcus Cameron, ACPO Michael Manteria

The Massachusetts Probation Service’s Defensive Tactics Team was established 22 years ago to educate Probation Officers about safety awareness while they were performing home visits or in the community. The team launched in 2001 with just two people, former Deputy Commissioner Steve Bocko, and former Chief Probation Officer Dan Ryan who were assigned to the Training Division and arranged for MPS employees to attend an FBI Training Academy course, according to Antonietta “Tonie” DeAngelis, Greenfield District Court Chief Probation Officer, who along with Lead Program Manager Diane Richards are veteran members of the team, which is now referred to as Safety and Defensive Tactics, according to Patricia Gavin, Statewide Probation Training Supervisor. 

Antoinetta “Tonie” DeAngelis, Greenfield District Court Chief Probation Officer
Antoinetta “Tonie” DeAngelis,
Greenfield District Court Chief Probation Officer

Chief DeAngelis recently recalled the transformation of the training. The FBI suspended the training programs due to the events of 9/11 and the team enrolled in the Massachusetts State Police Defensive Tactics training course. In 2011, some team members were nationally certified as Senior Instructors which allowed MPS to offer in-house certification of new instructors.

The team now provides training in Situational Awareness, Crisis De-escalation, pre-indicators of attack, cross cultural awareness, Use of Force, Office arrangement safety, as well as block, strikes, and edged weapon defense to name a few. Members of the team have acquired certifications and training in a variety of disciplines, including pressure point defensive tactics, Natural Response Control Tactics, Monadnock Defensive Tactics Systems, Monadnock Expandable Baton, ground defense and weapon defense. The team also recently added boxing training offered by Deputy Commissioner Pamerson Ifill, who is a former Golden Gloves champion.

Q: The Defensive Tactics Team has been in place to help Probation Officers remain safe on the job. How does the team prepare for this?

A: Members of the team are re-certified every three years and are required to pass written examinations as well as demonstrate skill proficiency to obtain instructor certifications. In addition to teaching safety classes at MTOC, each team member attends monthly in-service trainings to remain proficient at performing and teaching physical skills and techniques and they are required to practice on their on own time to maintain a high level of expertise.

Q: Who are the members of the Defensive Tactics Training Team?

A: This past year, we added to our team and some of our newest members are obtaining their certifications.  Our team includes: Worcester Superior ACPO Anthony J. Gigliotti; ELMO Program Manager Carmine J. Giuggio; Uxbridge ACPO Daniel K. Sullivan; Ms. Richard; Lynn District ACPO Evelyn Doherty-Terfry; Worcester Superior PO Gina M. Ryan; Worcester District PO Hanh Nguyen; Marlboro District PO Jason Ojeda; Norfolk Juvenile POII Paul C. Nwokeji; Suffolk P&F Officer Manager Tawauka C. Bryant; Hampden Superior PO Thomas L. Gauger; Springfield District ACPO Marcus Cameron; Barnstable District PO Patrick Princi; Fall River First ACPO Mark Costa; Worcester Superior PO Timothy W. Dupree; Bristol Probate & Family PO Kelly Curci; Essex Juvenile PO Jennie Galvin; Hampden Superior PO Thomas Gauger; Middlesex Superior ACPO Jennifer Kirchner; Gardner District PO William D. Goodell; Hampden Superior ACPO Michael Manteria; Suffolk Juvenile CPO Kevin McClerklin; Brockton ACPO Lynn Miller;Uxbridge District PO Daniel Sullivan; Boston Municipal-Central CPO John Turner; Core Competency Training Manager John Walsh; BMC-Roxbury PO Joseph Zuccaro; and Chief DeAngelis.

Q: What are some of the challenges PO’s face and how does the training prepare them?

A: Our jobs are very unique in that there is inherent danger in what we do, yet; MPS employees are able to navigate and de-escalate the most difficult situations. The skills taught by the team are meant to supplement all the other interpersonal skills that probation employees utilize when engaging with clients. We often hear from new PO’s, APO’s, and support staff that after attending the training, they feel better positioned to protect themselves in the event that a physical encounter arises.

Q: Why do you think it is important to have a Defensive Tactics Team and how does it add to your experience as an MPS employees?

A: It is a great honor for all of us to be members of this team. We train hard and are very happy to share defensive tactics skills with our MPS brothers and sisters in the hopes that they can defend themselves and make it home safely if they are involved in a physical encounter.

Media Contact for MPS' Defensive Tactics Team celebrates decades of teaching colleagues how to stay safe on the job

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