Two Quick Response Team members walked through the woods, tracking down two fugitives on the run. Using their eagle eyes, they are looking for spores, a broken branch or overturned leaf. Something the average person wouldn’t think twice about. Suddenly they picked up a track. A spot of blood. They know their fugitives have been there.
Just an hour before police got a call about a gun fight. Two highly dangerous fugitives were on the run and headed for Eastern York Middle School. Police called for the York County Quick Response Team. Tactical officers, hostage negotiators and snipers quickly descended on the area.
As real as this sounds, this was just a drill. Part of the intense training the York County Quick Response Team goes through on a regular basis.
“Anything we can do in a school. Anything we can do in a large business, a mall for example. Obviously you don’t even have to turn to page two of a newspaper, or a broadcast to see that that’s becoming too commonplace,” said Sgt. Craig Losty. He has been with the York County Quick Response Team since it was formed in November 2002. Before that he was part of the York City Quick Response Team. “We currently have 28 officers who are spread through the county. We have ten negotiators. These men are from 14 police departments around the county. We respond to 10-12 barricade calls a year on average, and about 18-20 high-risk warrants. Things like drug warrants where it is known that there are multiple weapons involved. Warrants where we know the suspect has an extensive criminal history, bank robbery suspects, one time we responded to a triple homicide suspect,” said Sgt. Losty.
The team trains for the worst. “Schools, large businesses, things like that. Any chance we get to train and get in these schools. We have every blueprint of every school in the county. If this happened are we prepared with blueprints? Are we prepared with diagrams? The faster we can get that stuff without looking for a janitor or principal as we are coming to the scene. We already have that information,” said Sgt. Losty.
When serious situation arise the QRT jumps into action. ” When the average citizen dials 911 they get a police officer. When the police officer has situations that they don’t have the equipment to handle, they dial our number,” said Sgt. Losty. The team shows up with their advanced equipment from ballistic body shields, tactical vests, night vision goggles, gas masks, sub-machine guns, and the list goes on. “With us comes a lot of specialty gear. Gear that the normal police officer or department doesn’t have the money to buy. When we go out we bring a legal adviser with us, someone from the District Attorneys Office. They will give us advice on certain things, or they will give the incident commander, the chief of police at that jurisdiction advice. We bring our negotiators with us, we bring our own medics with us. It’s an all-inclusive kind of club that comes when a chief calls me in the middle of the night. Usually it’s about 50 people when it’s all said and done, along with armored vehicles, specialized equipment things like that,” said Sgt. Losty.
Team members endure extreme temperatures and situations. They risk their lives to keep the public safe.
“It’s just great to be prepared. And I think the residents of York County can rest a little easier that they have a squad of dedicated individuals like this that are here for their protection,” said York County Commissioner Chris Reilly. “It’s the first live training exercise I’ve experienced with the QRT. It’s a very intense situation and these guys are obviously dedicated professionals and they are really taking it seriously. We provide a significant amount of money to the QRT each year and after seeing what is transpiring here, it is money well spent.”
“Everything we do, and everything we train for, is ultimately to keep the citizens of York County safe,” said Sgt. Losty.