TOGUS – With thousands of people coming and going and dozens of buildings spread over hundreds of acres, all on federal land, the Togus Veterans Affairs Medical Center complex can accurately be described as a small city within the capital city and the town of Chelsea.

And, like any city, the facility has its own emergency services.

“A lot of people are surprised we’re here,” said Joe Stangel, a captain and emergency medical technician for the Togus Fire Department.

The Togus Police Department was cast into the public eye this week when one of its officers, along with a warden from the Maine Warden Service, reportedly shot and killed an armed Marine Corps veteran during a confrontation at the edge of the woods near Togus’ Eastern Avenue entrance.

It was the first shooting involving a Togus police officer in the department’s history.

The Togus complex covers about 500 acres and includes approximately 65 buildings of various sizes, Togus Police Chief Dennis Passamore said. There are approximately 1,500 employees and 1,500 patients.

“There’s quite a bit of traffic around here,” said Bob Snow, assistant chief in engineering, which includes the Fire Department.

Togus’ police, fire and rescue departments provide round-the-clock coverage and do everything associated with municipal departments. There is even a full-time dispatch center specifically dedicated to Togus services.

Passamore said his department has 12 full time officers — including him and an assistant chief — who patrol in three cruisers.

The officers, all federal police, must attend the U.S. Government’s Law Enforcement Training Center at North Little Rock, Ark., when they’re hired. Training currently lasts five weeks, though an increase is in the works, Passamore said.

Officers receive monthly training once on the job, Passamore said. Officers must qualify in weapons and judgment training twice a year.

Applicants have to have either a degree, or a minimum of six months in law enforcement with full arrest authority, to even be considered for a job.

Passamore retired as a detective lieutenant from the Augusta Police Department after a 22-year career. One of his officers retired as chief of the Greenville Police Department.

“Most of our officers are veterans,” he said. “Right now it’s all but one (who are veterans).”

The bulk of the officers’ work is at Togus, but the department also is in charge of providing protection for the VA’s community-based outreach clinics and veterans centers in Maine. The department works with local police to protect facilities in the far reaches of the state, Passamore said.

“We have clinics all over the state that come under our jurisdiction,” he said.

Passamore said his officers do everything from traffic control to drug cases. The department handles cases out of U.S. District Court and the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office, Passamore said.

“Anything that takes place in the community, we will deal with here,” Passamore said.

While Togus police are restricted from assisting community or regional police departments, the same cannot be said of the Togus Fire Department, which automatically assists the Augusta Fire Department with any structure fire that goes to a second alarm, Snow said.

Togus firefighters also lend a hand to several other neighboring communities when asked.

The Togus Fire Department has two five-person crews, including the chief, who work shifts of 24 hours on duty, 24 hours off.

The department has two engines and two ambulances in addition to utility and chief vehicles. The department is fully equipped with personal gear, such as breathing tanks and thermal-imaging cameras, that you would expect in any community department.

The Fire Department is responsible for conducting all tests, including testing and monitoring all of the facilities’ smoke and heat detectors.

“Probably 75 to 80 percent of our work is inspections,” Stangel said.