The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office created its Special Response Team (SRT) IN 1997 to address an ever-increasing level of criminal sophistication and violence and to be better prepared for contingencies.
SRT consists of twenty full-time deputies who serve on a collateral duty basis. SRT provides a coordinated response to critical incidents throughout Okaloosa County, and whenever requested, in other areas throughout the State of Florida. These incidents are wide-ranging and include hostage/barricaded gunman situations, high risk search and arrest warrant service, terrorist incidents, security operations, and response to civil disturbances. The team is equipped and trained to operate on water, and in urban and rural environments in both daylight and/or darkness.
To prepare for any situation that may arise, SRT team members put a major emphasis on training in multiple types of tactics and have trained with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office Special Weapons Team, Florida SWAT Association, Heckler & Koch Training, Glock Training, Florida Wildlife Conservation (FWC) and various other state, government, and local agencies. Members attend mandatory training monthly and are required to qualify with weapons several times per year. All members have to successfully complete a basic SWAT school called “HELL WEEK” before they can be considered for the team. Hell Week is similar to basic training put on by the military.
With cooperation from Okaloosa County Emergency Medical Services, Tactical Medical Officers have been added to the team to immediately address injuries sustained by bystanders, officers and suspects during a critical incident. These Tactical Medical Officers participate in “ALL” SRT Team training.
As a part-time team, members continue to perform in an exemplary manner both in the performance of their assigned duties with the agency and assignments with the Special Response Team.
Crisis Negotiations Unit
Handling the crucial role of “communications” during a crisis situation is the primary assignment of the Crisis Negotiations Unit (CNU). The CNU was formed in 1998 and currently consists of twelve members of the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office who are continuously on-call for response to defuse a crisis situation before the use of force becomes necessary. The responsibility of the CNU is to establish communication with the barricaded person by phone, verbal conversation, or face to face interaction. The CNU will exhaust all avenues to peacefully resolve the incident using specialized communication’s training and techniques before the Special Response Team (SRT) is required to use force to protect members of the community. The CNU trains monthly and often attends training with negotiation teams from other agencies to share knowledge and become acquainted with new techniques.
All CNU personnel are members of the Florida Association of Hostage Negotiators (FAHN), allowing them to participate and train with negotiation teams from all over the state of Florida. Unit members are dedicated to the preservation of life and have demonstrated extraordinary communication skills and a sense of duty to go the extra mile in serving their community. The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office Crisis Negotiations Unit is committed to the peaceful and safe resolution of all crisis situations which may arise in Okaloosa County.