Naperville’s Special Response Team

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Naperville consistently ranks among the safest cities in America, which has led many residents over the years to wonder why the Naperville Police Department needs a Special Response Team (or SRT) with specialized equipment like an armored vehicle.

More commonly known by citizens as SWAT, Naperville’s SRT is comprised of highly trained officers who respond to the most dangerous critical incidents police officers can respond to. Typically, these are not everyday incidents and are often called “high risk – low frequency” types of events. Some examples of these types of incidents include hostage situations, barricaded subjects, pre-planned arrests, and high-risk search warrants.

“For a town our size, it’s an absolute necessity to have based on the number of calls we go on and the magnitude of incidents we could experience,” said Police Chief Jason Arres. “In many ways, it’s like an insurance policy – we hope we never have to use it, but we’re grateful we have it whenever we do.”

Naperville’s SRT was first established in 1992 and responds to 5-7 active incidents in Naperville per year, provides higher-level security for all major special events in town, and is called out to assist neighboring towns approximately 6 times per year.

Who’s on the team

Naperville’s Special Response Team is made up of 20-25 officers who are highly trained in many special tactics. It’s a difficult team to be selected for based on the physical fitness requirements, psychological requirements, the tactical decision-making that has to be displayed, and the need to be expert marksmen with all of the equipment this team uses.

Additionally, there are Naperville Fire Department paramedics embedded on the team. These brave individuals – called Tactical Emergency Medical Support (TEMS) medics – go unarmed into very dangerous situations to provide lifesaving medical support to officers and victims before the scene is fully secure.

Both their SRT operators and TEMS medics wear green uniforms chosen to blend into the environment, provide concealment at night and differentiate the team from uniformed police officers. They’re outfitted with larger, higher-grade ballistic helmets and body armor that offer more protection against the dangerous situations they’re involved in.

Specialized equipment

In addition to the specialized equipment each team member carries on their uniform, the team has resources like drones, a robot, and an armored vehicle to assist them when responding to critical incidents. The team’s robot and drones can gather information from inside the critical incident without putting a human in harm’s way. They can provide details about the environment and any hazards, gather intelligence, and locate the suspect and any victims.

Probably the most visible piece of equipment the team uses is the armored SRT Rescue Vehicle. This 23,000-pound vehicle provides ballistic protection when moving SRT personnel into, or evacuating individuals from, dangerous incidents. It is also a fully functioning ambulance, providing their TEMS medics with a safe environment to treat trauma victims with its enhanced lighting and onboard oxygen tanks, medication, and other life-saving equipment.

Rather than give hypothetical scenarios about when an armored rescue vehicle could be useful, here are two real-life examples that demonstrate the necessity of this vehicle and its capabilities:

  1. During the mass shooting incident at the Henry Pratt facility in Aurora in 2019, which Naperville’s SRT team responded to, the initial response teams were only able to safely enter the building by using an armored vehicle to access the doorway. The armored vehicle also provided cover to allow injured officers to be removed from the danger zone.
  2. In another incident, Naperville’s SRT Rescue Vehicle provided a tactical solution to an incident involving a suicidal man with a handgun who wanted officers to shoot and kill him. The protection this vehicle provided allowed officers to safely get close enough to the subject to be able to use less-lethal options if the individual had carried out his plan to approach officers with his firearm and force a confrontation. This protected both the officers and the individual in crisis.

While incidents like these do not happen often, it is critical to have this well-trained team and proper equipment on hand to deal with them when they do. Naperville’s Strategic Response Team is a valuable resource to the safety of the community and the protection of its residents and visitors.

630 Naperville welcomed Naperville Police Department’s Chief of Police, Jason Arres and William Barrett, Naperville Police Commander.