Critical Incident Response Team
In 1996, the City of St. Helens formed its first tactical team, designed primarily to deal with critical incidents considered outside the scope of routine law enforcement patrols. The team, named for the nature of its response, is known as the Critical Incident Response Team or C.I.R.T.
The team was formed following an incident involving a barricaded subject and subsequent suicide which congested the downtown area of St. Helens for nearly a day. Though the response by law enforcement was swift and the safety of the public was never in jeopardy, critiques at the conclusion of the incident showed that we could have done better.
The Critical Incident Response Team is made up of seven sworn law enforcement officers employed by the St. Helens Police Department. They are led by a Tactical Commander and a Team Leader. The primary task of the team is to act as an intermediary tactical unit specially trained and equipped to deal with incidents involving barricaded subjects, hostage rescue operations, armed suicidal subjects, mentally disturbed persons, civil disobedience, search warrant executions, special enforcement operations and all other similar incidents.
The response of C.I.R.T to critical incidents is primarily considered defensive in nature. When deployed, the team’s primary objective is to secure and contain a critical incident until it can be resolved within the boundaries of the team’s capabilities or until surrendering the scene to a more advanced tactical team. There is special emphasis regarding the team’s utilization center on bringing a peaceful resolution to all critical incidents.