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Home  |  News  |  Inside Richland County's Special Response Team

Inside Richland County's Special Response Team
Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Columbia, SC (WLTX) - In seconds, Richland County's Special Response Team takes down three suspects in a combination of hundreds of hours of training, days of planning and quick in-the-moment reaction.

News19 got a taste of what it's like to be a suspect when the SRT demonstrated a scenario. "This scenario we did was based on individuals that were wanted that were trafficking weapons and drugs," explains Lt. Ricky Ezell.

In it, our Sydney Cummins was a "bad guy." Ezell further explains, "The house was highly fortified, so it was going to entail some work getting inside. So, we felt it would be safer to take them down in a vehicle."

He and his team demonstrate the tactics for the students in the Richland County Sheriff's Department Citizens' Academy - everyday people getting a glimpse at stuff most don't see. "It's gotta be a high risk situation for us to respond," he tells the students. Then, pointing to the thick metal classroom door, he says, "They're trained to take this door and they can take all three hinges and defeat the lock in four seconds"

Let's start at the beginning, when the response team is called in. "We set up spotters to watch the vehicle," says Ezell, "And when it left, then we took the vehicle down in the parking lot." These spotters, also called observers or snipers, are dressed in camouflage and what looks like a blanket disguised as a bush.

After stopping at the car, the team shoots off a "flash-bang grenade" - a loud noise and flash of light that's meant to distract the suspects. "The driver exited the vehicle, displayed a weapon, and fired a couple blank rounds back at the officers," explains Ezell of what happened next, "At which time, two of the operators - using blanks - fired back."

At this point, it could get hectic in an SRT member's mind. But Ezell points out that they're trained for this, "You're trying to do threat assessment, assess the threat. And watch the hands. 'Cause what's in the hands is what'll hurt you."

Now, the driver is down and they move on to the other two passengers in the car, guns drawn and shouting for them to put their hands up. "They train so often that each one of them knows what the other one's going to be doing," says Ezell, "Our weapons are made to where they have flashlights on them, that aid in those situations."

Both remaining suspects come out of the car peacefully, and are immediately pulled to the ground and handcuffed. The team then checks all other areas for danger, including the trunk; pointing a gun inside after popping it.

The all-clear sounds over the radios, "Alpha team command, trunk is clear. Vehicle is secure."

Says Ezell, "By training, they learn to work through that adrenaline and pay more attention to detail on what their objective is and what their responsibilities are."

It's a scenario that may surprise average people - the chaos that's now completely under control.

But, one that these guys have seen over and over again.

Source: http://www.wltx.com/news/crimestoppers/article/158839/28/Inside-the-Special-Response-Team

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