Minnehaha County, South Dakota
The Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office has several specialized units. Deputies joining these units take these duties on as a secondary assignment. Each team requires its members to have confidence and a willingness to learn. Each team not only responds to crises in Minnehaha County, but has assisted other agencies throughout eastern South Dakota.
The Special Weapons And Tactics Team is prepared for situations requiring skills and techniques beyond a standard patrol officer response. Those situations include hostage rescue, barricaded subjects, high risk warrant service, and dignitary protection. The team has a Team Commander (Captain), Team Leader and Assistant Team Leader (Sergeants), and Operators (Deputies and Detectives).
The operators receive annual advanced tactics training from the National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA), and conduct training a minimum of twice per month. The team strives to meet national standards with its training and tactics. Potential team members must pass a physical fitness test, firearms qualification, and have an interview with the team leaders to be eligible to be selected. Upon becoming part of the team, the operators must pass a physical fitness test semi-annually.
Operators have been specially trained in various tools and weapons. Operators can receive advanced training in chemical munitions (commonly referred to as “tear gas”), explosive breaching, and precision marksmanship (snipers) among many others. Although some operators specialize in one of these disciplines, many are cross trained into others.
The Crisis Negotiation Unit is comprised of sergeants and deputies who have been trained to resolve situations involving suicidal subjects, barricaded subjects, and hostage situations. The team is comprised of sergeants, deputies, and detectives who have received advanced training in communication techniques. The people selected for this unit must show a history of strong communication and inter-personal skills.
The CNU works closely with the SWAT team and coordinates with medical and mental health professionals at the scene of a crisis.
These negotiators must be able to communicate with compassion and empathy with people who may be suffering from mental health issues, depression, or suicidal thoughts. This is a challenging profession which requires training in recognizing the motivations of people who are in crisis, whether it’s emotional or criminal. Each situation has different dynamics and requires negotiators who are adaptable and team-oriented. The negotiators who take on this duty show dedication to serving the community in this very unique profession.
Sioux Falls Police Department funds a Bomb Squad. The members of the Bomb Squad are trained in the evaluation of bombs, techniques to render them safe or dismantle them, and the various community safety issues that accompany such operations.
The Bomb Squad also assists the SWAT team with explosive breaching, and with the squad robot. The robot not only functions as a bomb tool, but assists by searching environments that are potentially hazardous to the team members. They are often called for suspicious items, along with actual ordnance and improvised devices.
The training for this special unit is extensive and the members are officers who operate patiently and capably under severe stress; an interest in mechanics or electronics is often helpful.
The Crash Team is comprised of Deputies with extensive training in accident investigation. The Deputies receive training with specialized measuring and mapping equipment, and can receive training to become certified in accident reconstruction. This team is called upon to investigate fatality accidents, accidents that appear to involve life-threatening injuries, and accidents involving other emergency vehicles.
The Deputies assigned to the Crash Team are proficient in the use of forensic mapping equipment and can also be called upon to help map crime scenes other than automobile accidents. This team is also responsible for follow up on these major accidents; to include, interviews, inspections of the vehicles involved, photography of the scene and vehicles, developing animated 3-D maps, and analyzing technical data to determine contributing factors of the crash.
The Crash Team requires the use of various complex formulas to determine multiple factors of an accident. An interest in mathematics and physics is generally helpful.