Tuesday, May 30, 2017
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108_0842.jpgThe Special Response Team, or SRT, was created to allow the Atascadero Police Department the option of deploying special weapons and tactics in situations that exceed the normal ability of a patrol officer or detective to respond effectively or safely. Such situations may include barricaded armed suspects, hostage incidents, or high-risk search or arrest warrant service.

The SRT has an authorized strength of six members. What is unique about the SRT is that the unit is fully integrated into the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department Special Enforcement Detail, or SED, the Sheriff's Department's special weapons and tactics unit. The Atascadero Police Department SRT is the only local police special weapons and tactics unit in San Luis Obispo County with such a distinction. The fully integrated unit is testimony to the confidence the Sheriff's Department has in the members of the SRT.

Membership in the SRT is a voluntary but demanding assignment. Acceptance into the SRT is not automatic. Membership demands physical abilities; firearms skill; tactical knowledge; the inner qualities of restraint, discipline, and self-confidence; and intense personal commitment. The members train twice a month with the SED- one time in their specific area of specialization such as sniper, entry team, or perimeter team and one time as a combined unit. Members of the SRT train twice a month with the SED- one time in their area of specialization including sniper team, entry team, or perimeter team and the second time as a combined team. Each training session is a full day including physical fitness and firearm training. The combined team training normally includes a realistic scenario in locations as varied as the airport, the harbor, a school, or an abandoned residence. It is not uncommon for SRT members to practice rappelling from a helicopter; deploying from a speeding boat in the harbor; or confronting an armed suspect with hostages in an airplane, on a bus, or in a school or residence. Membership in the SRT is exciting, challenging, and demanding. It is a goal that many officers seek, but only a select few attain.

Whenever the SRT is deployed the intent is always to resolve the critical incident without an escalation of the violence. The SRT and SED train t109_0919.JPGo that goal. In fact, throughout the nation the overwhelming majority of incidents in which a special weapons and tactics team is deployed are resolved without an escalation of violence. Quite often the very deployment of a special weapons and tactics team stabilizes, then de-escalates the incident and brings it to a successful conclusion.

Critical incidents requiring the SRT and SED have occurred in Atascadero. Undoubtedly such critical incidents will continue to occur. The community is not insulated from such incidents. But the community should be assured that the Department and the SRT will continue to respond to those incidents with a dedication to the highest level of professionalism, discipline, and training.

If you would like more information regarding the SRT, contact Sergeant Jeff Wilshusen at 805-470-3242 (jwilshusen@atascadero.org).

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Category: Divisions

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