Every time they respond, they are putting their lives on the line for the safety of the public and other officers.
The need for the Saskatoon Police Service tactical support unit (TSU) is on the rise as more high risk and often violent incidents involving guns continues to climb.
In a warehouse on 33rd Street East, we are invited to watch them in action as they play out a domestic violence scenario.
Simply put, they are the team that hopes for the best and plans for the worst.
According to Sgt. Ken Kane with the TSU, that involves training so when members are called to a risk or weapons complaint, everything is just second nature.
“We want to make sure when that time comes and we have to go into a situation like this that we are fully prepared to make sure we can hopefully bring it to a peaceful resolution,” he said.
“That’s why we train twice a month to make sure those skill sets are there when we need them.”
The TSU is a part-time team, made up of members whose primary duties lie somewhere else within the force.
“Everyone except for three are assigned to patrol division so we have a total of 22 members on the team, two of whom are canine handlers who are trained to a tactical standard as well.”
On any given shift, there will be two or three members for when crisis calls come in and inevitably – they do.
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In his 15 years with the team, Kane says calls have risen from 15 to 20 a year to more than 100 last year alone.
“With the growth of the city, the drug trade and the good economy, I think it’s just led to more violence in the city.”
The average tactical team call-out costs costs $8,000 and many times if the armoured rescue vehicle isn’t on-site, it’s right around the corner in case its needed.
To date, patrol officers have responded to 34 high risk or violent situations this year and each was resolved successfully with the assistance of the TSU.
“We will isolate, contain and negotiate for as long as it takes,” Kane said.
“I think it comes down to training, patience and experience.”
Negotiators often do the “heavy lifting” by talking the suspect down for as long as it takes, at times up to 11 hours.
“Any time we walk away from one of these situations where the suspect is in custody, there’s no use of force and no one in the public or any police members are hurt, that’s a win for us.”