The team’s primary role is serving arrest warrants though. They do arrest warrants for OSHP posts on a daily basis. SRT is also connected with the U.S. Marshals Service. At least one SRT trooper is provided daily to six different Marshals offices located in Toledo, Cleveland, Youngstown, Akron/Canton, Dayton and Columbus.
Many suspects wanted on Ohio warrants who are apprehended in other states get personally escorted back to the Buckeye state by SRT troopers because of the relationships SRT has with federal partners.
“Why do we get called? It’s because of our skills, ability and equipment,” said Capt. Brian Charles, SRT executive officer.
In the last two years, manhunts and search warrant requests have significantly increased. In 2016, SRT provided arrest warrant services 3,499 times, up from 2,047 times the previous year."
Capt. Charles says the increase in search warrants is directly connected to drug trafficking in Ohio. The same trend reported daily in newscasts regarding increases in heroin and fentanyl is seen by SRT through an increase in search warrant requests.
Assisting other agencies has been a foundational aspect of SRT since its inception. That’s also where good working relationships are fostered with other agencies. In 2016, SRT worked with 64 different federal, state, county and local agencies.
SRT also assists the OSHP’s Mobile Field Force at large-scale events like the Republican National Convention in Cleveland during July 2016 (Safer Ohio Magazine coverage on the Republican National Convention can be found in the July-September 2016 edition and on the Mobile Field Force in the July-September 2017 edition).
Training leads to success
The National Tactical Officers Association’s (NTOA) best practices recommend that a full-time tactical team trains 25 percent of the time. SRT accomplishes that by training together two consecutive days each month.
The team is also divided into three squads, generally covering the Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo/Dayton areas. Each squad trains one additional day per week on the same skills highlighted in the main team training to further reinforce those key areas.
There are also specialty units within SRT: sniper-observer team; robot team; medic group; unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV); explosive breachers and rappelling. Those separate entities train monthly within each skill-set.
In addition to all that training, there is specialized training for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) environments. Every SRT trooper is trained on how to handle a WMD environment during a tactical situation. It is critical for troopers to know how to work with personal protection equipment when they encounter a methamphetamine lab or fentanyl.
Outside training groups may also be called to discuss new strategies and tactics. Units are sent outside of Ohio for training, such as NTOA training. In June2016, for the first-time, the entire SRT was sent out of state to train with the U.S. Secret Service in preparation for the Republican National Convention.
Annually, members of the SRT also work with the Ohio Tactical Officers Association to receive the most current tactical training and certifications from across the country.
Handling extremely difficult situations
In February 2015, SRT troopers teamed up with U.S. Marshals searching for a known gang member who was terrorizing Columbus residents. The suspect had been involved in multiple shootings and murders as well as narcotics distribution.
The search eventually led to a Columbus apartment building. During a subsequent stand-off, the suspect pulled out a MAC-10 sub-machine gun and fired multiple rounds at officers. SRT troopers safely rescued an adult female and an eight-year old autistic boy from the apartment building.
“Every day we knowingly put our people in harm’s way,” Capt. Charles said. “Our guys do great work and I am confident in their abilities. The public hopefully appreciates the officers are out there doing this not just for the citizens of Ohio, but for the entire nation. Maybe there is somebody we arrest today that could have gone to another state and committed a violent crime.”
As Capt. Charles says, SRT’s mission statement is simple – To Save Lives.