In early 2011, Sheriff Brian Roberts of the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office established the counties first Special Response Team. This team of Deputies has undergone extensive advanced training to enable them to resolve a variety of situations such as active shooters, hostage situations, search warrants, suicidal subjects and any other high risk situations that may occur. Sheriff Roberts, recognizing the need to keep the cost of this team off of the local taxpayers, was able to pay for the majority of the expenses associated with this team with drug forfeiture funds and federal funding.
After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security recognized the importance of having Special Response Vehicles strategically placed across the country that could respond to major events caused, not only by terrorism, but by today’s “mass shooting” trends. Brunswick County fell perfectly on the map for one of these vehicles. Located two hours from the tidewater region, two hours from Raleigh, N.C., two hours from Richmond and four hours from Washington D.C., Brunswick County was a good choice for the placement of one of these vehicles. The Sheriff spoke with officials about the possibility of Brunswick acquiring one of these vehicles and soon the ball was rolling. A grant for the vehicle was written and approved by the federal government.
The vehicle was built in Massachusetts and delivered to Brunswick County in October. Although this vehicle is housed in Brunswick, it will be used by other counties in the region including Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Greensville, Nottoway, Dinwiddie and Sussex. The vehicle is highly specialized and heavily armored. Some of the capabilities of the vehicle include detection systems for chemical, biological radioactive, nuclear and explosive hazards. There is also a detection system for methane, propane and natural gas, which could be very helpful to local fire and emergency services in the event of a leak in Brunswick County. There is a self- contained breathing system to protect responders that are in the vehicle. Also, the vehicle has a thermal imaging system that enables law enforcement to see at night.
Sheriff Roberts is very proud that his office was able to acquire this vehicle.
“Anytime that I am able to solve a local problem while keeping any associated cost from being a burden on our local budget, I try to go that route. This vehicle was going to be placed in this region of Virginia by the federal government and I knew it could benefit us both financially and “strategically due to our pre-existing need. The timing could not have been better.”