Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team

The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) was formed in 1977 to deal with the most dangerous and high-risk incidents that occur in the Capitol Regional District. The original team was made up of eight members - four from Saanich Police and four from Victoria City Police.  

 

 

One of the original team photos, circa 1976

Original Team

Today the team includes 14 members from any of the Greater Victoria area police agencies. Members of (GVERT) undergo an extensive and challenging selection process. Once the team is chosen, training is intensive and ongoing. GVERT may be called-out to assist police agencies in the Greater Victoria area when the potential risk of harm to the public or the police is assessed at a level that warrants the deployment of the team. The team is available 24 hours a day and has safely resolved a large number of potentially dangerous incidents.  

ERT cross training with the Coast Guard ert on road

The idea of Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Teams first arose in the US in the 1960's in response to increasing civil unrest and several highly publicized incidents that required a tactical response that went beyond the capabilities of local Law Enforcement.   LAPD was the first police agency to field a SWAT Team. These teams started out with volunteers who had a military background and evolved into highly specialized teams that trained regularly and were activated based on need.

ERT approaches a residence

Some highly publicized examples of SWAT Team responses in the US include:

  • 1974 -Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA) Shoot-out in Los Angles . The SLA group had kidnapped Patricia Hearst two months earlier and six members of the group (including leader) barricaded themselves in their L.A. hideout. A shoot-out ensued and fire consumed the building killing all six members. During the shot-out the SLA fired almost 4000 rounds at three SWAT squads.  
  • 1984 - Los Angeles Summer Olympics .   In preparation for this event SWAT supervisors were sent to Europe to evaluate counter-terrorist & hostage rescue techniques employed overseas. Each SWAT member received 2000 hours of training that elevated the team to a new elite level.
  • 1997 - North Hollywood Bank Robbery. Two heavily armed males robbed a Hollywood bank and the resultant shoot-out involved multiple LAPD members. Suspects were armed with AK-47's, a .223 fully automatic rifle, and a .308 semi-automatic rifle.   The suspects, who were wearing extensive body armour, fired over one thousand rounds.   One of the suspects committed suicide, the other suspect shot by SWAT officers.

 

 

ERT use k9 in arrest
Here in BC the need for tactical teams of this nature began to develop in the 1970's as well. There was growing international concern about terrorism after the Munich Massacre. at the 1972 Olympics and locally as BC police were concerned about the possible security issues that may occur as a result of the United Nations Habitat Conference that was to occur in 1976 in Vancouver.

In preparation for this conference the B.C. Chiefs of Police petitioned the Provincial Government to fund the formation of special weapons team. As a result of this, Emergency Response Teams (ERT) were formed in both Vancouver and Victoria.

 

Today British Columbia has three Municipal Emergency Response Teams - Victoria, Vancouver, Integrated Lower Mainland (Delta, Abbotsford, New Westminster). The RCMP has two teams on Vancouver Island (North & South)  

ERT movesin


The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team provides a highly specialized and critically important component of your police service. While situations that necessitate the deployment of the team are relatively rare, on the occasions where their expertise is required it is comforting to know this team is highly trained and ready for action.




 

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