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Welcome - Worldwide directory of special forces and government agencies
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Chattanooga PD SWAT

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Washington DC ERT

US Capitol Police CERT

Washington DC ERT

In addition to the District of Colombia being the capital of the United States, and one of the seats of world power, it's also a major US metropolitan area. Being home to the President of the United States, both houses of Congress, and headquarters to many US federal government agencies, each year hundreds of thousands of foreign businessmen, dignitaries, VIP's, and tourists converge on the city. In addition to those conducting official business or seeking to visit the many historical sites of their nations capitol, it also attracts criminals, terrorists, the mentally unbalanced, and protesters of every type.

The law enforcement agency tasked with dealing with all of this is the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, or MPD. The MPD is one of several agencies providing law enforcement services in the greater D.C. metropolitan area. In order to deal with unusual situations, or situations that patrol officers are not trained or equipped to handle, the MPD has formed several specialist sub-units within its ranks including: K-9, the Explosive Ordnance Unit (EOU), the MPDs bomb squad , and a SWAT unit known as the Emergency Response Team.

The Emergency Response Team (ERT) was formed in April of 1984, as a full time unit tasked with performing a number of specialist tactical duties for the department. The ERT, along with the Explosive Ordnance Unit (EOU) compromise the Special Tactics Branch (STB) of the Special Operations Division (SOD), all of which operate within the MPD's Patrol Services Bureau (PSB).

The mission of the Special Operations Division is to support patrol operations by developing special tactics and deploying specially trained personnel in unusual law enforcement situations and events; assisting the District Commanders with selective traffic enforcement, traffic control, accident investigation and public vehicle regulation enforcement; and coordinating with other agencies and organizational elements concerning special events and potential catastrophic situations.

The Special Tactics Branch is currently commanded by a Captain and consists of the Negotiations Unit, The EOU, and the ERT. The Negations Unit is commanded is commanded by a Lieutenant, with a sergeant as his deputy, and several other officers. The EOU is commanded by a Sergeant, and is composed of five bomb technicians, and five K-9 officers with explosive detection dogs.

The specific functions of the Special Tactics Branch are listed as follows:

  • Maintains liaison between Federal and Municipal governments in civil defense matters. Provides on-duty manpower for rapid deployment of crowd management situations, disasters, and unusual occurrences. Examines, deactivates, and disposes of incendiary or explosive materials.
  • Instructs the Civil Disturbance Unit on bomb identification and the handling of bomb threats. Provides training assistance to other organizational elements and outside agencies on bomb identification. Maintains liaison with the National Bomb Data Center and provides for an orderly and secure exchange of information. Establishes and maintains complete files on bombings, found objects, bomb threats, and barricade situations.
  • Responds to all barricade, hostage, criminal and political terrorist situations and provides trained personnel to resolve such incidents. Provides trained negotiators in suicide attempts. Supplies information on hostage barricade rescue operations to local and Federal law enforcement agencies.
  • Provides training sessions to local and Federal law enforcement agencies when requested. Provides supplemental assistance to the Special Events Branch for security details. Conducts security surveys of high-risk targets to prevent terrorist attacks on buildings and personnel.
  • Supports the U.S. Secret Service as requested in the protection of foreign missions and embassies.
  • Provides trained personnel on request for service of warrants in high-risk situations for violence.
  • Develops and presents on a continuing basis, training for physical fitness, hostage rescue, hostage negotiation, special weapons and tactics, and apprehension techniques.

Police officers wishing to become members of the ERT must first pass an extensive selection process that begins with a review of the applicants record. Those applicants who pass, are then subjected to a firearms proficiency test, and a grueling urban obstacle course designed to test their physical stamina and agility. Those candidates who remain are then given a written test and an oral interview by senior members of the ERT, who grade the candidates performance on both. The remaining hopefuls then undertake a six-week ERT basic training course. Once assigned to the team, ERT operators are required to undertake two hours of physical training each morning in order to maintain the level of fitness, and complete hundreds of hours of training each year.

In addition to its own rigorous training program the ERT regularly conducts training exercises, and operations with other law enforcement agencies and tactical units including the US Secret Service, the US Capital Police, the US Park Police, The Diplomatic Security Service, the ATF, DEA, FBI, US Marshal's Service, Metro Transit Police, Defense Protective Service, Federal Protective Service, Prince George County Police, Baltimore County Police, the USMC, and the US Army.

The ERT also sponsors an annual training event known as the MPDC SWAT competition. During the competition tactical teams from across the nation, and Canada, compete in five events that are designed to test their physical and mental abilities. Events include a tactical shooting exercise, a rappelling event, tactical deployment exercise, hostage rescue scenario, and a physical fitness exercise.

The ERT is kept extremely busy, conducting operations on almost a daily basis. One of the more recent high profile examples of a "typical" operation occurred on February 1, 1999. At approximately 10:41 on the morning of February 1, 1999, police responded to 4321 Massachusetts Avenue, NW to investigate a disorderly conduct complaint. Upon arrival, they determined that the complaint was the result of a health care worker knocking repeatedly on the front door of the Massachusetts Avenue address. The health care worker was attempting to gain entry to the private residence to check on the welfare of a patient.

Another acquaintance of the resident provided police officers with a key to the home. However, when they unlocked and opened the door, they heard the sound of gunfire. The officers could not determine where the gunfire was directed, so they withdrew and summoned members of the Metropolitan Police Department's Emergency Response Team (ERT).

Members of ERT responded to the scene and immediately cordoned off the area. After repeated attempts to make contact with the occupant, members of ERT fired gas into the house at 2:10 pm and entered the residence. Upon entering they discovered the body of an adult male suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Despite the finical problems Washington D.C. has been experiencing, the ERT has not suffered the same fate and remains one of the best equipped tactical units in the nation. Team members are outfitted with a wide variety of high quality equipment. Uniforms consist of black flame-resistant coveralls, either an Israeli produced ballistic helmet, or US PASGT "Fritz" style Kevlar helmets. A customized level IIIA tactical vest with additional drop in "trauma" plates. Motorola radios with a hands free throat mikes. Boots consist of various models depending on individual operator preference.

Weapons in use by the ERT are known to include the following: SIG-Sauer P-226 9mm pistols with attached Sure-Fire 3-volt tactical lights, Colt M635 9mm submachine guns with Sure-Fire lights, Uzi 9mm submachine guns, M-16A2 and M-4A1 5.56mm rifles, some of which have been fitted with aim-point scopes, Remington 870 12-gauge shotguns, Remington 700 .308 caliber Police sniper rifles, with Leupold 6.5 X 20 optics, .22 caliber rifles, 37mm gas guns, and various chemical and distraction/diversionary devices.

The team also maintains three government surplus Peacekeeper armored cars for use in civil disturbances, sniper incidents, and other situations where it is deemed necessary to provide a degree of extra protection to the officers. The team is also equipped with a mobile equipment carrying vehicle.