Emergency Response Team
As one of the support units for the police force, the Emergency Response Team are there to respond to high priority calls throughout the city of Belleville. Trained to deal with barricaded persons, the 13 members of the ERT work alongside negotiators to carry out warrants involving drugs and weaponry.
“When our drug unit conduct an investigation into someone having drugs or guns, after a warrant is sought and granted to, that’s when the ERT is called in to assist in the search depending on level of risk and often time we get called to execute those warrants.”
While drug or gun warrants are a high priority in Belleville, the team are also responsible for missing person searches and have been trained on using special GPS methods, such as grid searches.
The ERT respond to an average of 25 to 40 calls per year, as part of their training, they dedicate 20 days a year to train in stressful situations and different scenarios they can encounter during the job.
To qualify for the team, candidates must go through a task specific fitness test which will test their capabilities when responding to a call, this includes scaling six-foot walls, carrying the heaviest person on the team and many other physical tests. This is all done with a mask that restricts breathing. If you can’t pass this test, you will have difficulties on the Emergency Response Team.
Sgt. Martin Charbonneau, who has been on the response team for 11 years, says building the confidence to trust that his comrades will react the correct way takes time.
“Your actions have to be very deliberate when you’re on the team, so when you’re training with those guys, you eventually build that trust. From doing that you build that trust with each other, should things go wrong, you know that they will react appropriately and that could be the difference between you getting hurt or not.”
While the ERT are a special unit in the force, Charbonneau wanted to make it clear that the team are just another part of the plan to make Belleville the safest community it can be. “We’re all members of this community as well and we all have that common goal of making the city safe for our kids to grow up in and in turn for the citizens of Belleville as well.”