Special Response Team

"Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; Send me" Isaih 6:8

 

When people have and emergency, they call 911 and the police come out. But who do the police call when they need help? They call the Special Response Team, a group of 30 specially trained and equipped deputies who are on call 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year to handle any situation. This team is ready to respond to any emergency and can be fully deployed within an hour.

The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Special Response Team or SRT was formed in 1997 under the direction and leadership of Chief Deputy Jason Ard. He did extensive research and attended numerous training schools in preparing to launch the team. Jason is now a basic SWAT instructor and has helped several other agencies around south Louisiana form and train their own SWAT teams.

The original 11 members of the SRT, many of which are still on the team, received their basic training from some excellent, well trained and experienced members of the award winning Baton Rouge Police Department SRT. They continued training monthly and attending specialized schools for a year before being deployed on their first mission. Members of the SRT come from the various divisions of the Sheriff's Office, Uniform Patrol, Detectives, Civil Processing, K-9, Motor Division and the Training Division. SRT is not a full time assignment, so all members respond to callouts on their own time. SRT is divided into two teams which rotate on a call out schedule for most missions. On large operations or major emergencies, the entire team can be deployed.

All members of the SRT are trained to use all of the tools and weapons available for the team, but usually certain members specialize in certain functions such as breaching, counter sniper, surveillance, K-9, and planning. Every SRT mission is carefully planned in advance so that the mission can be completed quickly, effectively and safely. Tactics used in one situation may not work in another. The planning process is very important so that the three basic elements of every SRT mission, "speed, surprise and overwhelming force" can be achieved and everyone comes out safe.

The SRT is trained to handle all high risk situations that cannot be handled by regular patrol deputies. These matters include hostage situations, barricaded subjects, civil disorder, active shooters, surveillance operations and high risk felony warrants and search warrants. The team has also trained in area schools so that they can effectively respond to everyone's worst nightmare, a school shooter. They also are called upon to take on any other mission that regular deputies cannot handle or is assigned by the Sheriff. One of the most unusual missions the team performed was the escort of two million dollars in cash to a bank in Hammond during Hurricane Katrina. They must be ready to respond at a moments notice and adapt their skills and tactics to the mission assigned.

To be a member of the SRT, new applicants must have a minimum of one year patrol experience, be POST certified, be in top physical condition and have excellent marksmanship skills. Applicants undergo a rigorous tryout including a background check, shooting tests, physical fitness tests and an oral interview. If they pass these tests they must then be unanimously approved by current team members and the team commander.

A typical mission such as a narcotic search warrant occurs when one of our detectives gains sufficient information to obtain a search warrant. He then contacts the SRT commander and briefs him of the mission. The detective checks records and does criminal history checks on the suspect. The commander and detective then meet and do surveillance of the site to ensure it is the correct location and plan the approach. Photos are taken, maps drawn and an operations order is composed. A time is set to ensure that the evidence to be seized is there and that unnecessary risks can be reduced. The team is then paged out to meet at a covert location and team leaders are briefed. The commander plans the mission and then turns the operation over to the team leader for assignments and equipment designation. The team leader makes the assignments of each member and ensures he has the tools he needs to accomplish his task. A briefing is then conducted for everyone involved, a prayer is offered for a safe and successful mission and the team loads up. Most approaches are covert and quick. On arrival to the site, the team goes into action and the entry is made. A three bedroom house can usually be secured within 10 seconds. Suspects are detained and the scene is turned over to detectives for the search, with SRT maintaining security for the site. A entry is successful if it is done with speed, surprise and an overwhelming force that does not allow anyone the opportunity to resist and risk harm to themselves or the team. Upon the completion of the mission, a debriefing is conducted to discuss how the mission progressed and to work out any problems that occurred. The last thing the team does is thank God for a successful mission and as for guidance, wisdom and safe passage.

SRT, as well as the entire Sheriff's Office, plans for every possible mission in the hope that they will never have to deploy. Unfortunately, there are those in our society that choose a lifestyle or make poor decisions that violate the laws of our society and we as professional law enforcement officers have to be prepared and equipped to deal with them. The only way to do that is through the selection of good people, training, planning and the guidance of God. The Livingston Parish Sheriff's Office Special Response Team is ready, willing, and able to handle any mission. Please remember that while you are secure in your home and with your family and friends that there are those standing guard between you and evil.

"But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the sword in vain" Romans 13:4

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