Elite Unit Seizes Opportunity to Prepare for Upcoming G8/NATO Summits
Arlington Heights -- The Illinois State Police Special Weapons of Mass Destruction Team (SWMDT) recently conducted a large scale training scenario at an undisclosed location in suburban Cook County – the Agency’s second training exercise within the last five months.
The Agency’s SWMDT was designated by a Governor's mandate in 2000 to be capable of responding to any nuclear, chemical, or biological threat in Illinois. Led by State Police Special Operations, the elite Unit is divided into north, central, and south divisions. ISP’s Special Operations also commands the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit, and has the ability to deploy ISP SWAT resources to address human threats, followed by a multi-agency response to prevent and/or mitigate any Weapons of Mass Destruction threat.
The SWMDT is comprised of specialists from the Secretary of State's Bomb Squad, National Guard's Civil Support Team, Illinois Emergency Management Agency, Department of Public Health, Environmental Protection Agency, and the Illinois Medical Emergency Response Team.
The semi-annual training conducted at the end of the year is part of the Special Operations Command’s on-going efforts to train unit members to master their specialized skills. This training exercise included the dismantling of a chemical lab with aeration ability and the disarming of multiple improvised explosive devices. The SWMDT often trains in the Chicago area in preparation for large public events such as the upcoming G8/NATO Summits.
“Every training exercise is an opportunity for our officers to use their specialized skills, knowledge base, equipment, and response tactics so that they are well prepared for any crisis response mission,” said ISP Director Hiram Grau.
In 2011, ISP Special Operations Command conducted 300 training missions that involved a variety of high-risk operations, response, and preparedness tactics.
The Unit trains once every week, and many surrounding and local municipalities rely on ISP SWAT/SWMDT for tactical operations support and assistance.
The Unit’s commanding officer underscored that training also reinforces practical experience when operating in an all hazards environment, particularly with large scale security events like the G8 and NATO Summits.
“Our mission continues to focus on the highest level of tactical performance and training that challenges our response capability for the unexpected,” said ISP Special Operations Command Captain Scott Koerner. “Our officers have specialized training at every level of operational tactics and understand that every threat, every hazard, and every crisis will require high risk response operations,” he added.
ISP SWAT and SWMDT are fully certified as the State’s law enforcement response for any type of tactical or hazardous crisis and are dedicated 24 hours.