February 16, 2011

Emergency Services Unit - Tactical Team

Ever wonder what the Emergency Services Unit (ESU) Tactical Team does? Team leader Lt. Bernie Escalante explains...

In June 2006 the Santa Cruz Police Department established the very first Tactical Team in the history of the Police Department. The team was established to provide specialized support in handling critical field operations where special tactical deployment is required. The team has the ability to provide a higher level of response in both tactics and equipment.

The Tactical Team has grown to 18 members including one Lieutenant, 3 Sergeants and 14 Operators. All of the members successfully passed a selection process that included an oral interview, a rigorous physical fitness test, and a challenging firearms proficiency test. Each member is required to pass both the fitness test and the firearms proficiency test twice a year. Prior to being an active member of the team, each member is required to successfully complete a State Certified SWAT School. The team regularly trains 1 to 2 times a month, and also provides additional tactical training to the rest of the organization. The extensive amount of training each member receives not only benefits the individual team member but also each individual officer within the organization.

The assignment to the Tactical Team does not provide any additional pay. It is a voluntary assignment and is solely based on each member’s high level of commitment to the safety of the community and dedication to the organization. The team can be called upon at any time, day or night, 7 days a week.

The Tactical Team has the ability to handle multiple different types of situations such as; high risk search and or arrest warrants, barricaded subjects, and hostage rescue situations. We also spend a considerable amount of time training for an active shooter situation in our local schools or business locations. During our brief history of existence, we have been called upon to handle a considerable amount of situations. We have served several high risk gang related search and or arrest warrants on violent felons. We served a high risk arrest warrant on a subject wanted for multiple armed bank robberies involving 3 different counties. We were recently involved in capturing a violent felon escapee that shocked the conscious of our community. These are just a few examples of when our Tactical Team has been called upon to bring potentially violent situations to a safe resolution.

Our team continues to learn, develop, and maintain a grueling training regimen for the benefit of the community and the organization. Through training, commitment, dedication and professionalism, the intent of the Tactical Team is to peacefully settle any problem if possible, but have the ability to overcome whatever unforeseen obstacle which may be encountered.