Berkeley Police Special Response Team (SRT)
The City of Berkeley Police Department's (BPD) Special Response Team (SRT) has provided a ready response to high threat and risk incidents outside the normal scope of BPD Police patrol responsibilities since 1976. The team’s charge is to exercise control over critical incidents such as barricaded subject and hostage situations, service of high risk search and arrest warrants, special circumstance search and rescue operations, special weapons and tactical support for planned and unplanned Departmental operations and tactical support for crowd control operations during incidents involving major violence. The team’s goal is to protect the lives of, and minimize the hazards to, all persons associated with such events.
The BPD SRT is organized into the following elements:
Command Element: Comprised of one SRT Commander who has responsibility for all SRT operations, and two Tactical Commanders who have responsibility for their respective tactical teams.
Tactical Element: Comprised of two, 12 member tactical teams that are responsible for tactical missions, including arrest, containment, evacuation, tactical intelligence gathering, rescue, search, security, and support of other planned department operations.
Negotiator Element: Comprised of one team leader, an assistant team leader, and 6-8 negotiators that are responsible for the advancement of a resolution for a critical incident through intelligence gathering and negotiation.
Logistics Element: Comprised of a team leader and three sworn officers who have the responsibility for the procurement and maintenance of team equipment and supplies.
Tactical Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) Comprised of two sworn officers trained and qualified to the standard of Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) who are responsible for tactical emergency medical support during SRT operations.
Tactical Dispatch: Comprised of Department dispatchers who have responsibility for establishing communication channels, and maintaining and posting tactical logs and incident events.
All members go through an extensive selection process. The process includes a formal application review and interview, completion of a 110-hour tactical operations California P.O.S.T. Basic S.W.A.T Course, periodic physical fitness testing and weapons qualifications as well as a probationary training period. The Team has many responsibilities, including handling barricaded subject and hostage situations, personal protection assignments, special circumstance search and rescue operations, tactical support for Patrol activities, and the service of high risk search and arrest warrants. Since the formation of the SRT in 1976, the Team has been involved in over 100 operations.
Over the years, many of the training and tactical techniques researched and used by the Team have been incorporated into BPD's training and patrol procedures, greatly augmenting the department's ability to serve our community.
Team members participate in extensive monthly training, including weapons proficiency, tactical operations and movement, negotiations philosophy and critical incident review. Training is accomplished through lectures, demonstration, audio-visual training, use of various training sites, and live fire training exercises which simulate, as much as possible, real life situations. The Team's operational successes, as well as its participation in community based training programs have allowed the Department to maintain its respected position in Berkeley and among the law enforcement community.
All SRT Negotiator Element team members go through a competitive selection process as well including an application, oral interview with a panel and rountable discussion of qualifications by current team members. Negotiators must be certified by by attending a approved California P.O.S.T. Basic Negotiation Course and attend re-certification every two years in addition to advanced and speciality courses.
SRT has been involved in approximately 100 tactical operations to date. The most noteworthy operation was the 1990 Henry’s Publick House Hostage Incident. The team resolved the 7 ½ hour standoff with a mentally disturbed gunman and safely rescued 33 hostages.
In recent years, some members of the Tactical Element of SRT have volunteered to represent BPD by their participation in Urban Shield. Urban Shield is a federally funded forty-eight hour competitive training exercise for first responders, including firefighters, EMS and police. The exercise is based on real-world emergencies and critical events. Teams came from all parts of the world to participate in the exercise. Thirty four teams participated in the exercise, including teams from Texas and Brazil. The exercise draws international attention and has had observes from many countries including The Netherlands and Switzerland.
In 2013, BPD’s SRT Team demonstrated their skills and dedication to their mission by placing first among the competing teams in the exercise. This is the first time Berkeley’s team placed first and is the result of a multi-year effort. The Police Review Commission voted on 12/11/2013 to recognize the Team for this accomplishment. The Mayor and City Council later issued a proclamation congratulating 2013 team members Sergeants Jennifer Louis, Spencer Fomby, Joe Okies, Sean Ross and Officers Scott Castle, Kevin Kleppe, Rashawn Cummings and Sean Tinney for their efforts and performance at Urban Shield, 2013.
On June 3, 2014, members of the Berkeley Police Department’s Special Response Team (SRT) received a City Proclamation during the City Council Meeting regarding their participation in the 2013 Urban Shield Training Exercise hosted by the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.
For more pictures of SRT in action, follow this link.