The Emergency Response Unit is part of the Bureau of Special Operations. This part-time unit consists of members selected from a candidate pool comprised of officers employed throughout the police department.
This specially trained and equipped unit provides support to the agency in:
- Hostage/barricaded persons
- Narcotic search warrants
- Dignitary protection
- Civil disturbances
- Other hazardous situations.
Currently, the unit structure of ERU consists of twenty tactical members, one truck driver, one videographer, and a ten-member hostage negotiation unit. During civil disturbance situations, the ERU forms one of six platoons the department can mobilize for riot control. During any call-out situation, all personnel directly related to the scene are under the authority and command of the Emergency Response Unit Commander.
Emergency Response Unit training is primarily organized and instructed by the ERU itself. When this unit was formed in 1982, very little training existed which would contribute to the formation and operation of a tactical unit. Members of the unit devised training schedules and internally created unique entry formations and tactics which other teams around the country are now using.
Training sessions are held every other week and comprise of practicing the following situations:
- Barricaded suspects
- Barricaded suspects with hostages
- Tactical rappelling
- Physical fitness training
- Door breaching
- Firearms training
- Distraction devices
- Chemical agent training
- Less-Lethal training
- Ladder climbing
Training sessions are designed to be very demanding. This results in officers that are able to think clearly and respond properly while they are stressed and in a state of fatigue during real situations.
Role players are often used during training sessions. These role players are not limited in their response once the unit takes action. Unit officers have reached a point of specialization that they are seldom surprised by the actions taken by the role players. To add realism to these training situations, role players and team members are equipped with simunition weapons that plainly indicate hits or misses. Training is geared toward developing tactics to allow ballistic equipment to take all shots fired by the role players.
All team members are cross-trained with the exception of the team's snipers, chemical agent personnel, and less-lethal deployment officers. These officers receive additional training and are required to qualify with their assigned weapons.