The Division of Field Services is pleased to announce a pilot program involving a full-time compliment of STOP Team personnel. The MSP STOP Team (Special Tactical Operations Team) has been in existence on a "call-out" basis since 1970, and currently consists of 37 highly trained "on-call" state police officers. The STOP Team has traditionally been used to respond to a variety of high-risk missions that require more specialized training and capabilities than most patrol officers posses. Each STOP Team member receives extensive training in weapons and tactics and cross-trains with other specialized units, such as the Air Wing, Canine Unit, and Crisis Negotiation Unit. The team is available on a twenty-four hour basis to responds to incidents such as hostage and barricaded subjects, high risk warrant service, civil disturbances, dignitary protection, and sniper/counter sniper operations. The MSP Team is also one of the few teams in the Northeast that are trained and equipped to provide a tactical response in a WMD (weapons of mass destruction) environment.
The current pilot program involves a compliment of 12 STOP Team officers deployed full-time to STOP duties. This full-time status presents an opportunity for the MSP to provide a host of additional services to the citizens of the Commonwealth in a more timely and efficient manner. The following represents some of the goals of the pilot program:
- Enhance current STOP Team capabilities and proficiency to include WMD capabilities
- Provide a "go-to" force readily available to support any high risk police operations state-wide that require tactical operators or short-notice police service
- Attain and sustain a Type I NIMS classification
- Enhance response capabilities at identified critical infrastructures by conducting pre-planning and site familiarization
- Enhance opportunities to provide STOP Team training programs, particularly the Active Shooter Program, to other law enforcement agencies.
The enhancement of the Active Shooter Program is one of the cornerstones of the pilot program. The Active Shooter Training Program was developed in the aftermath of the 1999 Columbine High School tragedy. During an 18 month period, the United States witnessed a dozen school shootings form Bethel, Alaska to Conyers, Georgia. The shootings aroused concerns and fears about school safety across the country and ignited a review of both preventative methods and response capabilities. Training deficiencies for the initial law enforcement officers responding to the scene were identified. The Active Shooter Training program developed to address these deficiencies and enhance public safety.
The MSP took a leadership role in the area of training first responding police officers to critical incidents involving an "active shooter". Since its inception in 2000, the MSP STOP Team has trained over 4000 officers from 90 different police agencies across the Commonwealth. The program consists of a three-phase course involving one day of classroom instruction and two days of hands-on practical instruction using simulations and role players in realistic settings. The demand for this training program has increased steadily each year since 2000. With the advent of the full-time STOP Team, this critical training can now be delivered at a much advanced pace, preparing more first responding officers to a variety of critical incidents involving an active shooter.
The full-time STOP Team pilot program has been operational for approximately one month. During that time, the Team has responded to four critical incidents involving armed, barricaded subjects, two high risk warrant services, one civil disturbance, and two Active Shooter training sessions.