Critical Incident Response Team
On April 20, 1999, the nation was shocked by the terrifying images brought to all of us on television of two students in Colorado at Columbine High School armed with firearms and explosive devices killing fellow students. Within months several other incidents were reported across the nation where students in schools were found to be in possession of firearms and explosives with the intent of following through with similar plans. At this time the Sheriff's Office recognized the need for a team of specialized law enforcement personnel with the training to handle such an incident if it were to occur in Steuben County. Through the efforts of the Sheriff and several members of the Sheriff's Office, the Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) was founded in 1999. Over the next several years the team grew in experience and gained the tools and equipment needed to complete tasks assigned to them. The team acquired a mobile command post, tactical training, and other equipment necessary to become a fully operational team. The Sheriff did not stop with the formation of the team and through further efforts created a groundbreaking school response plan so all members of law enforcement throughout Steuben County had a plan in place in the event an incident arose. This hit close to home on February 14, 2001, when an 18- year- old student was discovered in possession of firearms and explosives in an Elmira School. The student was arrested before any incident occurred, but this fortified the Sheriff's Office's efforts for the team to excel. The team has developed even further over the past few years by setting a high standard for all team members to abide by. The team has acquired specialized weapons and a mobile robot to aid in any incident that may arise. In 2004 the Sheriff's Office put into place this Operations Policy that would insure further movement forward and solidify these higher standards. Such requirements as physical training standards and firearms proficiency were already in place, but general operating orders were introduced for all team members to adhere to.
With these standards in place, the Critical Incident Response Team of the Steuben County Sheriff's Office has no place to go but forward to insure the safety and well-being of all citizens in Steuben County.
Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) Team Mission
The mission of the Steuben County Sheriff's Office Critical Incident Response Team is to provide specialized tactical police services throughout Steuben County and the surrounding areas.
The team receives specific training in the areas of perimeter security, scene management, and tactical responses utilizing conventional and specialized equipment. Initially founded in 1999, CIRT grew in training, equipment, and experience. The team acquired a mobile command post, advanced tactical training, and the equipment necessary to become fully operational. The team has acquired an MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicle for a protected response and has increased from twelve to fifteen members. All new members are required to complete the 160-hour NYS DCJS-OPS Swat Operator Course.
In 2018, CIRT trained with the Livingston and Chemung County SWAT teams, as well as the Elmira and Ithaca Police Department SWAT teams. CIRT is used predominantly for high-risk search warrant entry and stabilization, barricaded subject incidents, and search and rescue. Maintaining high standards in training, deployment, and response, CIRT responded to eleven elevated risk incidents in Steuben County in 2018 as follows:
- March: Warrant entry in Hornell New York
- May: Barricaded subject in Addison New York
- June: Warrant entry in Addison New York
- Warrant entry in Bath, New York
- MRAP deployment in Bath, New York
- July: Barricaded subject in Erwin, New York
- August: Warrant entry Bath, New York
- Security Detail assignment Watkins Glen International
- September: Barricaded subject Lindley, New York
- November: Warrant entry Corning, New York
CIRT continues to meet the tactical needs of the Steuben County law enforcement community and is called upon by many of the police agencies in Steuben County and the region.