The students of the Citizens Police Academy returned to the Public Safety Training Center onTuesday night to learn about the Bloomington Police Department Critical Incident Response Team.
Lt. Mick Williams, one of the leaders of BPD’s CIRT, took the class through a presentation on the team.
Williams explained CIRT is divided into a SWAT team, hostage negotiators, tactical paramedics responsible for team health and crisis dispatch team.
Williams said the SWAT team is responsible for the tactical resolution and containment of an incident, such as rescuing hostages. He said it is are the highest profile group within CIRT.
The SWAT team trains every three months and spends 26 days each year training. Williams said the biggest difference between a SWAT officer and a patrol officer is the training time spent on decision making.
“We spend a lot of time on our decision-making process,” Williams said. “That’s our bread and butter.”
During the history of the CIRT team at BPD, Williams said it hashad many successes, such as freeing hostages. It also helpsupport presidential candidates' security teams, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
Williams said there are 19 SWAT team members. He said they spend time outside of work maintaining their skills.
“It has everything to do with dedication,” Williams said. “These guys are on call 365 days a year.”
Williams said the SWAT team members live on call 24 hours a day every day, but they have two times a month they can call off. Williams said during his 22 years at BPD, he has missed many holidays and birthdays.
“Our families put up with a lot of stuff,” Williams said.
After the presentation, Williams showed the students into the range to give a demonstration of the equipment used by CIRT.
Detective Shawn Hines found his place behind a long table full of equipment and showed the class what he wears and carries when he goes out on call.
Hines showed the students his M4 carbine rifle and handgun. He then showed the green vest, green helmet, green SWAT belt and gas mask he wears.
The next item on the table was a noise flash diversionary device. Hines said the NFDD is used by the team to divert a suspect’s attention using a loud noise.
Williams grabbed a blue training NFDD, pulled the pin and threw it across the range.
“Fire in the hole,” Williams said.
There were a few seconds of silence. And then there was a loud bang. A gas-like odor filled the air.
The demonstration continued by showing the students a 40 mm launcher, ballistic police shield and a ram breaching tool.
The final piece of equipment shown was a pole camera. The pole had a camera on the end and was attached to a monitor that gave a livestream of everything the camera saw.
Williams said the pole camera is used when entering buildings to see what is ahead. He demonstrated its use by having Officer First Class Eric Doyle hide in a closet. Williams then used the pole camera to find Doyle without having to enter the closet.
After the demonstration, the officers allowed the students to pick up equipment and try out using the pole camera.
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