US Capitol Police CERT
The twenty-five city blocks (26 acres) that compromise the US Capitol in Washington, DC are arguably the some of the most heavily defended pieces of territory in the world, and the 1,300 personnel of the US Capitol Police Department are one of the many law enforcement agencies tasked with defending them. Created by Congress in 1828, the purpose of the United States Capitol Police was to provide security for the United States Capitol Building. Today, their mission has expanded to protecting life and property, preventing, detecting, and investigating criminal acts, and enforcing traffic regulations throughout a large complex of congressional buildings, parks, and thoroughfares. Additionally, the protection of Members of Congress, Officers of Congress, and their families is expanded by statute to the entire United States, its territories and possessions, and the District of Columbia. These services are provided through the use of a variety of foot and vehicular patrols, fixed posts, and specialty support units.
One of these specialty units is the department's elite tactical team, known as the Containment & Emergency Response Team (CERT). The CERT was organized by the Department in 1978 to handle tactical operations with the capital complex, and to deal with the rise in terrorist activities being directed at the US and its citizens. Since there won't be time to call for assistance in the event a terrorist is ever able to execute a attack against the Capitol, their primary mission consists of rescuing Congressional members, their staff, and visitors who have been taken hostage by terrorists. Secondary missions include, countering threats made against dignitaries, responding to critical incidents and providing security for major events, such as the Presidential Inauguration. They also assist the Criminal Investigations Division and Drug Enforcement Unit in serving arrest warrants, and providing additional assistance to the Department's Protective Services Bureau.
The CERT is a part-time unit composed of officers drawn from though out the department. In the event a situation should arise each team member has been issued a pager to be recalled. The unit is currently comprised of two assault teams, designated Red Cell and Blue Cell, and a counter-sniper team called Gold Cell. Each assault team is composed of at least six men, commanded by a sergeant.
Officers wishing to become a member of the CERT must first pass a week long selection process that includes various events such as running an obstacle course in full tactical gear, a combat shooting test, an oral examination, participating in a tabletop exercise, a providing a technical presentation to the selection cadre.
Those candidates who pass have there names added to a roster, and if a spot on the team becomes available within the next year they advance on to the next phase of training, if no position opens up within the twelve months their name is on the roster, they must successfully complete the process again.
For those officers lucky enough to have spot open up, they are sent to a week long advanced firearms course where they must obtain a 90% score or be dropped from he program. For those candidates who remain, training continues. Candidates advance to the Motor Patrol School, and Field Training School, before finally attending an eight week basic SWAT school.
Officers selected as snipers attended a modified version of the US Marine Corps Scout Sniper school at Marine Corps Base, Quantico. During the course they must obtain a score of 95% while firing at targets at ranges of up to 500 meters.
Since the CERT is not a full time unit the team gathers for one week of training a month. During this training they conduct training in room assaults, CQB, speed shooting, vehicle assaults, helicopter assaults, fast roping, vehicle take downs ,and others skills.
In addition to their own extensive training program CERT routinely operates or conducts training with other tactical units in the Metro DC area, such as the FBI's HRT and SWAT teams, the US Park Police SWAT team, Metro DC Emergency Response Team (ERT) , US Secret Service Counter Assault Team (CAT), USSS Uniform Division ERT and Counter Sniper Team (CST), The US military, and various other agencies.
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CERT operators are equipped with the best gear available on the market, including items rarely seen amongst tactical units: protective masks, atropine kits, and military issue chemical decontamination kits. All CERT operators are trained in the use of military issued spring-fired, auto-injection, atropine injector kits. An important skill to have as nerve agents like Sarin and Tabun take effect extremely fast. The atropine ejectors would be used during operations that taking place in chemical environments. They are also trained in the use of M-258 chemical detection kits, M-13 decon kits, and DS2 cleaning solution.
Vehicles in use by the team include Crown Victoria patrol cars, and Critical Incident Response Vehicles (CIRV - specially modified Chevy Suburbans), some of which have been equipped with assault ladders for scaling building during an assault. Aviation support is provided by the US Park Police, who make helicopters available for use by the team.
When the Department originally formed the CERT, it outfitted it's operators with Browning Hi-power 9mm pistols, but they recent transitioned over to Glock 22 .40S&W. Shotguns in use by the team include the Benelli Super 90 12-gauge. The team is also equipped with the universally popular HK series of submachine guns and has transitioned from 9mm to .40S&W models, all of which have been equipped with various laser, visible light, and infrared aiming devices. The teams latest acquisition is the HK G-36 5.56mm assault rifle, which will replace their Colt 5.56mm rifles. CERT counter snipers are equipped with Remington 700 .308 cal sniper rifles with HS Precision composite Kevlar-graphite stocks, and Leupold fixed ten-power scopes. Various chemical agents (OC, CS, CN), grenade launchers, and distraction devices ("flash bangs"), PRT-24s, and collapsible batons are also available for use.