Within the CDC emergency situations, and high-risk special assignments are handled by a highly trained specialist unit known as the Special Emergency Response Team, or SERT. Every level II through IV facility is required to maintain a SERT. SERTs are used in situations when regular institutional forces are unable to maintain or regain control of a situation, or when the situation is of such a high-risk, that the SERT's specialized skills and equipment are deemed useful. When employed, a SERTs primary responsibility is "To save lives and protect property".
SERT teams are composed of volunteer personnel, who when not training or activated, are assigned to regular full-time correctional duty assignments. Team size varies from institution to institution (12-21 members) depending on the size of the facility, its location, the institution's security level, inmate population, and the response time of addtional support units. All SERT personnel are on 24 hour standby to be recalled to their assigned institution, or to any other institution needing assistance.
SERTs can trace their origins to the loosely organized tactical teams formed during the sixty's and seventy's to deal with disturbances within CDC facilities. These teams had no formalized training, structure, equipment or standardized operating procedures (SOPs). In 1982 the Director authorized a an assessment to study the Departments ability to respond to disturbances within CDC facilities. Upon completion of the assessment the Director recommended the establishment of a Disturbance Control Program with in the CDC. SERTs were a major component of the new program, and in May 1983 the department conducted its first formalized SERT training academy, with official authorization and funding being granted by the Governor and state Legislator in July of 1984.
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