The Massachusetts State Police will now include a new division specifically dedicated to homeland security, Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday.
The Division of Homeland Security and Preparedness will increase efficiency in the State Police by consolidating efforts to counter terror, efforts to combat the opioid crisis, and the collection and analysis of criminal intelligence, Baker’s office said in a statement.
Those operations were previously spread across various divisions.
“By bringing the different elements of our homeland security operations under one command, we will enhance the ability for the State Police to coordinate, respond and protect the Commonwealth for critical incidents and threats like drug trafficking,” Baker said.
State Police Colonel Richard McKeon said troopers in the homeland security division are currently working with the Boston Police Department to ensure public safety at the “free speech rally” planned for Saturday.
The division was created when Baker signed the fiscal year 2018 budget and has been forming for the past two months, State Police spokesman Dave Procopio said in an e-mail.
“In an increasingly chaotic world, the time has come for the Massachusetts State Police to build the organization and structure needed to meet the challenges that threaten our safety, security, and freedoms,” McKeon said at the conference.
Certain sections of the division, such as the such as the new 24-hour watch center located at State Police general headquarters in Framingham, are still being developed, Procopio said.
The watch center will “monitor all developing incidents, anywhere in the state, nation, or world, that impact public safety and security,” McKeon said, allowing State Police to more efficiently coordinate responses from law enforcement agencies statewide.
In addition to its counterterrorism and antiopioid abuse efforts, the division will also include a section responsible for coordinating security measures at large events in the state, such as the Boston Marathon and Sail Boston.