ERT always at the ready

The Royal Gazette Ltd

Bermuda, July 18, 2000

Skilful talking averted a potential tragedy in the Bailey's Bay stake out.

But if the suspect had proved a serious threat to himself or others, the eight-man Emergency Response Team (ERT) would have stepped in.

There are two teams, called out once or twice a month for high-risk arrest warrants, all armed with the ultra-reliable and accurate Heckler and Koch machine pistols known as the MP5.

Although it must be set to fire only single rounds for Police work, the nine-millimetre MP5 can be set to fire in bursts or to empty its 30-bullet chamber in seconds.

ERT officers also carry light-weight plastic Glock pistols strapped to their legs.

Included in the ERT armoury is the Arwen 37, described as the "less lethal option", which fires plastic batons to knock people over before an arrest is made.

Tear gas, which causes stinging and itching in the eyes and throat, is also an option to temporarily disable suspects, but some are immune to its affects.

Officers are also equipped with bullet proof vests and helmets made from Kevlar, a super-strong fabric.

Really? ....

I will admit to being part of the E.R.T. 'gang'.  Not because I was a particularly good shot - I'm not.  I just happened to have been fit enough to pass the acceptance requirements and found myself being 'trained' to provide containment in the event there was a problem.  The E.R.T. came about due to the requirements of 'international' airports to have a 'specialist' team available in the event of emergency - or so we were told.

Bermuda qualified as an international airport and so a 'team' was constructed.  We undertook training on one of the islands and nipped off to Jamaica for 2 weeks for 'exercises'.  But it was something of a joke, an opportunity to play 'soldier' or pretend we were actually the best trained and equipped officers on the island or within the police service.

Personally, as a lousy shot, I was always amazed to have been selected to undertake a marksman competition for the police against a visiting navy crew and the Bermuda regiment.  I was stunned when we won.

This aside, the E.R.T. is not to be taken too seriously.  Sure, it is the nearest the island had, or has, to 'professional' security personnel but it is a unit borne out of necessity - after all, Bermuda does not recruit mercenaries or for professional soldiers.  Like many of its specialist tasks, it picks what it can from the available pool.  The officers selected no doubt have good intentions but let's not take ourselves too seriously.

Would you like an E.R.T. firearms certificate?  One will be posted shortly.





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