Vilas County Sheriff

330 Court Street
Eagle River, WI 54521
(715) 479-4441
(800) 472-7290

Sheriff Joseph Fath

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The Vilas County Sheriff's Department Emergency Response Team, "ERT", was formed in 1993. It is comprised of highly trained officers, each of whom can assume varied responsibilities with a high degree of expertise and proficiency. The unit is prepared to assume full control of specific tactical situations which, by nature, would be considered excessively dangerous and complex, or which would require the use of a specialized team effort rather than independent action by individual officers. Practically speaking, the unit is organized as a crisis intervention team with both negotiation and assault capabilities.

Negotiations initiated by the unit employ modern psychology and negotiation techniques. Stress, logical reasoning, time, utility control, barter and other concepts, tools, and devices might be used to ease a crisis. Assault tactics employed by the unit reflect police strategy of handling and dealing with situations involving confrontations with potentially dangerous suspects. The concept of "apprehension of the suspect" is accomplished through the primary discipline of approaching each situation as a "life saving mission". The goal of the unit is to accomplish each mission without injury or death resulting from the unit's intervention. Foremost in the minds of the members is the preservation of life and safety of the community.

The Team is considered a part-time unity that is assembled on a call-out basis. The unit is considered at full strength when staffed with 9 fully cross-trained officers, and two negotiators. Division of responsibility lies within two main elements; the Tactical Element, comprised of members who perform the entry work and rescue, and Technical Element, comprised of a two man marksman team, two crisis negotiators, and one gas specialist. All members wear a black BDU style uniform, with the option of a woodland camouflage coverall, which has been found to blend with the Northern terrain. Officers wear ballistic vests and helmets and are armed with Heckler and Koch MP5 sub-machine guns and Colt .223 sub-machine guns as primary entry weapons, and duty handguns as secondary weapons. The team also carries with them a "less lethal" option of intervention if needed in the form of bean bag rounds and the Taser system. The primary mode of transportation for the unit is a combination Equipment Van/Command Post vehicle designed to transport the men and equipment to the scene of a deployment and function as a crisis negotiation center and command post. The team is also supported by the department's K-9 Unit. The K-9 and several team members have been certified in SKIDDS (Swat, K-9, Interaction, During, Deployment, School).

E.R.T. duty is a secondary assignment and strictly voluntary. All members have primary assignments as Patrolman or Supervisors.