Rapid City standoff highlights importance of Special Response Team

RAPID CITY S.D. – Action taken by the Pennington County Special Response Team during the New Year’s Day police standoff is a reminder of the important role the team plays in life-and-death situations.

During the standoff, a major intersection in Rapid City was shut down while the suspect fired dozens of rounds at officers.

The Special Response Team (SRT) has members from across the law enforcement board including the Rapid City Police Department, the Pennington County Sheriff’s Office, and the South Dakota Highway Patrol. They’re called out to public safety crises, such as standoffs and bomb threats.

“When we come out on a call, the type of call is typically so much more violent than what it was years ago,” said Captain Tony Harrison with the SRT.

Rapid City Police Captain James Johns is one of the team’s leaders. He said the SRT is a critical force to preserve life.

“When we’ve got enough manpower we can institute a procedure to deal with these crisis situations so they can be resolved in a peaceful manner,” Captain Johns said.

The team also has access to top of the line gear such as drones, surveillance, and tactical gear, which many patrol shifts don’t have. SRT members also undergo special training in psychology, communication, and fitness.

They operate mostly in Pennington County but do travel anywhere they’re needed.

“We go anywhere in West River that we’ve been asked to go,” said Captain Johns. “In fact, we’ve been to Chadron, Nebraska before.”

Captain Harrison said SRT call outs are now more common, mostly because of more drug and mental health issues.

But ultimately, the team’s success depends on one factor – the subject’s willingness to cooperate.

“Obviously we want every situation to end peacefully, but we’re prepared to do what we need to do if the suspect chooses a different course,” Captain Johns said.

Categories: Crime, Local News, South Dakota News