Special Response Team Training

Have you ever had the chance to see a police department’s Special Response Team in action? These are the guys dressed in tactical gear and are sporting the firepower to back up their efforts. I have seen them up close, and they can be intimidating, not good if you are a criminal.

So what does a Special Response team do? They are a very specialized and an essential part of the police department. They are called out on hostage situations, armed barricade incidents, high-risk search or arrest warrants and any crisis where a specialized unit is deemed necessary to control the incident. They can also be utilized in the event of a suicidal individual, natural disasters, civil disorder, riot charge, bomb threats and surveillance. They respond to any incident that requires extra resources, equipment and training that can’t be handled by traditional police units.

Tactical teams require members to go through intense & specialized training. It is a voluntary condition, but officers that are interested must pass a rigorous evaluation to be considered. Often this includes, but may not be limited to, an oral board, obstacle course, firearm proficiency and working various scenarios.

Teams will conduct biweekly or monthly training exercises in everything from hostage rescue and weapons training to covert entry and clearing of buildings, and of course, they train in real life scenarios.

Teams will also participate in different training programs located throughout the country. They will learn and update their training in areas such as shoot/no shoot decisions, securing a perimeter, threat recognition, officer down situations, building searches and the use of less lethal weapons.

To keep their training fresh, they will hold one or more real-life scenarios each year. Let’s walk you through one of those scenes these teams train for. The plot is a hostage situation at an office building. One person is down, the number of hostages and suspects is unknown. This is all the information the team is given. The team is comprised of officers that are trying to become members. In this case, there are two suspects and four hostages. The suspects are police officers on the actual team. The captors find a room with a view of the front door so they could watch the progress of the team. It is a prolonged, arduous process. The officers don’t have a clue as to what they will find or where, so they move at a snail’s pace.

Once inside the building, the slow task continues. There are two hostages hiding in different rooms. When a team finds a hostage or a hostage is released, they must treat them as suspects until they are confident they are not. Once they discover both of the hidden hostages, they will move on. Next up is to release a hostage. She runs down the hall screaming, only to be ordered to stop, turn around, put her hands on her head and walk backward toward the team. Then they gather what information they can as to what yet awaits them. There is now only one remaining hostage. The captors decide they would “put” the last hostage around a corner, threatening to harm him.

The captors and the last hostage retire to a room and wait and then wait some more. Suddenly, the door burst open with men yelling, “get down!” and “bang!.” The remaining is tackled by one team member to get him out of the line of fire. And, just like that, it is over. Everything happens so fast that neither the captors or hostages can think. That is exactly what they meant to do. The element of surprise. Congrats all around, the remaining hostage is safe!

Following such a drill, the team assembles and discusses what went wrong, what they did right and how anything could have been done differently. It drills like this that allow these special response teams to be prepared for any real-life situations that may arise.

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