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Guilderland tear gas tests suspended

Large-scale tear gas training at the New York Army National Guard rifle range in Guilderland has been halted.

The state Department of Correctional Services has elected to move their such training operations involving tear gas to a location in Willard, spokeswoman Linda Foglia said.

Due to the community concerns surrounding the July 5 incident, the Department of Correctional Services immediately searched for other location options to conduct the training involving the chemical agent instructor school, she said.

Concern was raised over the training earlier this month when the chemical smoke wafted from the training facility to the adjacent Albany Country Club, where at the time young day campers were outside.

The children and several golfers were moved inside and the fire department was summoned, but no one sustained serious injuries.

Country club General Manager William Aperance said the club has been affected on one other occasional by the chemical gas.

"We're obviously thrilled that Department of Corrections moved that," he said. "The club is very happy that that level of chemical would not be used in backyard."

Guilderland Councilman Mark Grimm joined with county club officials to lobby the DOCS for a change to policy.

"They were really responsive," he said. "They understood the problem and they acted to fix it... I really salute them for that."

DOCS normally conducts other, smaller scale tear gas exercises in its correction officer recruit training, said Foglia, and while the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs has ordered a stop to that training as well, the department will be sitting down to lobby for it to continue in the future.

Those exercises use a much smaller amount of gas than that used in the July 5 incident, and generally take place in a "gas house," she said, where recruits test their masks and are exposed to the gas.

"It presents no danger to the community," Foglia said.

Holding the exercises at the Guilderland location would be a logistical benefit for the department, which holds recruit training academy in Albany.

Aperance said he is not strictly opposed to such training.

"We would prefer if none of it was done near us....but as long as it doesn't create an incident, then there's not much we can do about it," he said. ""

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