Special Operations Unit
[SWAT Team Image]
Sonoma County Sheriff's Office SWAT Team
The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office is committed to maintaining a cadre of highly trained, disciplined, and motivated deputies, who are specifically equipped and available to respond to critical and/or high-risk incidents, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.
The Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, a component of the Special Operations Unit (SOU), consists of 20 members; including a Lieutenant, 3 Sergeants, 3 Team Leaders, and 14 Operators. Team members are given primary assignments based upon their skill level, experience, and ability. Within the team, operators can be assigned to entry, containment, chemical agent delivery, and long rifle positions.
The SWAT team is equipped and trained in the use of a variety of methods for diffusing the most dangerous situations facing law enforcement. Using disciplined teamwork, specialized weapons, and tactical skills, the SWAT team works with other components of the Special Operations Unit to bring a peaceful resolution to critical incidents, such as:
Arrest of armed and dangerous subjects
High-risk building or open field searches
High-risk warrant service
Any other situation that challenges or exceeds the weaponry or training level of patrol deputies
In order to maintain the proficiency and skill level required, the SWAT team trains twice a month on tactical movement and firearms proficiency. Operators assigned to the Long Rifle Team train one additional day per month.
The SWAT team utilizes a variety of tools and weapons to accomplish the mission, including specialized weapons, ballistic shields, breaching tools, chemical agents, night vision equipment, and less lethal projectiles. Recently, we acquired a Light Armored Vehicle to further enhance our ability to operate in a high-risk environment.
In order to be eligible for the team, operators must have a minimum of three years of law enforcement experience, exhibit firearms proficiency, and pass a rigorous physical test and oral interview. Operators are expected to be leaders and role models throughout the department and are tested continually to ensure they are maintaining the proper physical fitness and firearms proficiency required.
Hostage Negotiation Team
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Hostage Negotiation Team is comprised of one Sergeant and nine Deputy Sheriffs and a Mental Health Expert. The team is deployed as part of the Sheriff's Office Special Operations Unit during major crisis situations involving suicidal subjects, barricaded subjects, and hostage takers. Their role is to attempt to build a rapport with the involved person(s) and bring the situation to a peaceful resolution to an incident.
The Technical Team is part of the Special Operations Unit. The Technical Team is responsible for setting up the Command Center, maintaining computer systems, communications, surveillance, and also telephone insertion. The Team also coordinates with the local utilities company if required.
The Sonoma County Sheriff's Office Breaching Team is an integral part of the Bomb Squad and works very closely with the SWAT Team. If required they are responsible for the use of explosives for entry into buildings barricaded by armed suspects.
Tactical Dispatch Unit
Tactical Dispatchers help facilitate any critical incident operation by organizing all incoming information and getting it to the right source. They make contacts as requested by the Tactical or Incident Commander and any other information gathering that is needed. The Tactile Dispatchers assist in many ways to insure a safe and efficient operation in any critical incident or emergency.
Tactical Paramedic Team
Developed in 1999, the Tactical Paramedic Program is a component of the Special Operations Unit. Although not a requirement, all the Tactical Medics are full-time firefighters with local jurisdictions. Tactical Medics play a vital role in our ability to contain, control, and de-escalate a critical incident, while minimizing the risk to innocent bystanders, victims, law enforcement personnel, as well as the suspect. The role of the Tactical Medic is very complex, but includes:
Ability to provide advanced, on scene medical support during high-risk operations
Ability to work within the "hot zone" during critical incidents
Assesses, plans, and provides preventative medical care during sustained operations
Coordinates both ground and air medical support units
Coordinates with local trauma centers in the event of a mass causality incident
Develops a "Medical Threat Assessment" based upon available medical intelligence
Makes recommendations designed to enhance team member's health and performance
Since our Tactical Medics are firefighters, they also provide the Special Operations Unit with expertise in the areas of:
Toxic hazards-identification, risks, and management
Rope rescue skills
Building construction knowledge
Fire suppression capabilities
Forced entry knowledge and associated tools