Tuscaloosa Police’s Special Response Team shares how they tackle dangerous calls

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 7:19 AM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - The Tuscaloosa Police Department has one of the largest Special Response Teams in the country, and they consistently show up to contain some of the most dangerous situations.

Earlier this week, TPD responded to two children they said were being held hostage inside an apartment. Those kids are safe now, with the help of TPD’s Special Response Team, 30 highly trained tactical officers who are called in for the most serious situations.

“Anytime we have a shooting or homicide in town, at least part of our team is getting activated,” SRT Major Heath Clark said. “We bring tools to the table to be able to encapsulate a situation that could become out of control, and bring it under control, so we can deal with someone who might have a mental episode, or panicking because of something they just did recently.”

The team gets extra and extensive training each month to prepare for the worst.

“The biggest thing is getting that training time in,” Clark said.

“By training, we work with each other so much we know what the other person is going to do once we do it,” SRT Lt. Richard Canez said. “So, when we get there, you’re pretty much on autopilot, because these guys know exactly what to do and when to do it.”

But, not every police department in the state has a SRT unit. Tuscaloosa has one of the largest.

“Other counties ask us for help in situations where they don’t have the manpower or training to do stuff like we do,” Lt. Canez said. “We have a large team. The number we show up with is a deterrent of itself. Knowing that if we show up and we have armored vehicles that travel to the front door and they look out the window and see this vehicle out there, it is kind of intimidating.”

They also work closely with the department’s mental health unit and the goal is to keep not only the public and officers safe, but also the suspects.

The team just upgraded technology. They now have drones to see the scene from another angle, but also drones to go inside buildings.

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