The Athens County Sheriffs Office Special Response Team (SRT) is a tactical unit with the assignment of carrying out high risk responsibilities.
The formation of the SRT was started under the direction of Sheriff Kelly with the purpose of serving high risk drug warrants and arrest warrants. From the beginning, the team began training; preparing and outfitting with equipment for other events that required a safe, tactical response by specially trained law enforcement officers.
The SRT is comprised of members of the Athens County Sheriffs Office and the Nelsonville Police Department, forming a county wide special response team.
The SRT completes a twice-monthly training program where all aspects of tactical responses are prepared for. The topics trained and achieved include; hostage situations, barricaded persons, high risk drug warrants, high risk arrest warrants, search and rescue, surveillance operations, terrorists threats and attacks, threatened suicide intervention and personal security.
Through the formation and training regiments of the SRT each operator has achieved a level of training with specific tools and tactics to combat numerous incidents within Athens County. This operational unit has provided Athens County law enforcement agencies a tool that can safely negotiate and address a rapidly evolving situation with a level of safety that Athens County has not previously been afforded.
Members of SRT are on a volunteer assignment above other duties assigned within each operator’s specific agency. Members undergo an extensive training program and are placed into a probationary status for shadowing team operations prior to being placed in an active status on the team. This process usually takes six months of training and apprenticeship prior to actual team operations. Once an operator is approved for team functions they will receive on-going training, which is approximately 500 hours for each team member. This training will cover all aspects of team functions, including firearms, building and room entry, special tools, distraction devices, less-lethal options, tactical vehicle operations and other aspects.
SRT also has a four-man element that is tasked with counter-sniper operations and providing scout capable over-watch to team elements and operations. These highly trained marksmen have duties that provide long distance scouting options that can provide team and command staff information to an incident without putting any person in immediate harms way.
Since its formation, SRT has been utilized approximately 100 times for various purposes including high risk warrants, armed barricaded persons, barricaded suicidal persons, taken part in drug eradication operations, and wanted persons (warrant) round ups. In 2012 SRT assisted the United States Secret Service with the vice president and president visits to Athens. During these operations no citizen, victim, suspect or law enforcement officer has received harm, highlighting the special skills utilized by the SRT.
With these tasks SRT units stand ready for incidents that may arise within all jurisdictions inside Athens County and providing a level of safety to citizens and law enforcement at a professional and expert level.