Whether it's chasing down a criminal or running down stairways carrying victims over their shoulder, the select team of 35 police officers comprise the Emergency Response Team, Fayetteville Police's volunteer rescue force.
The elite team, referred to as ERT, took their annual retention test, a comprehensive fitness evaluation, earlier in April and exceeded the standards in all areas.
Dressed in their navy blue cargo pants, weight vests and protective helmets, the police force suited up and loaded up their weapons as they prepared for the exercise ribbing each along the way, especially those more senior in age.
The stress shoot style timed evaluation consisted of a 50-yard sprint carrying around 70 pounds of weight, which includes full ammo, heavy vest, gas mask and extraction devices.
The men paired up for the test before sprinting from the starting point with full weight, then performed pull ups, dragged a 'victim', stair climbed, executed push ups, a final sprint to the 16 lane shooting range followed by firing 17 rifle rounds - six in the prone position, six standing and finishing with pistol in different positions like kneeling and even one-handed. The shot groups were all tight.
The standard was 4:00 minutes to meet the criteria, but the entire ERT completed the exercise between 2:00 and 3:00 minutes, proving they are beyond fit for duty. The ERT maintains physical fitness and firearm standards that the rest of the department does not have to maintain.
"Search warrant execution is 90% of our work," said Captain Lars Paul. "Call outs are the other part - hostages and barricade situations."
The Police Training Center contains the shooting ranges, gym, tire house and rappel tower used throughout the year to hone their skills and maintain their level of readiness for when duty calls. Lately, that is quite a bit.
The position is an additional duty and completely voluntary for those who can meet the performance standards. While there are no hefty additional incentives like the military offers, they are not in it for the money, but rather the sense of duty when it comes to serving the community.
The mission of the ERT is that of a rescue team, with a mission to preserve life, not take life. More often than not, the public view SWAT teams to be kicking down doors using excessive force, and that is not an accurate depiction of the ERT here in Fayetteville.
Upon being called out to critical incidents, anywhere from three to five nights a week, the main goal is to contain the situation to a smaller area, make the apprehension of force and evacuate the innocent, dealing with the aggressor after everyone else is safe explained Lieutenant Mike Ruff.
In late January's four hour long standoff incident, where police were shot at by Fort Bragg's Staff Sgt. Joshua P. Eisenhauer, the ERT ran operations from their armored vehicle.
Fayetteville residents can sleep better at night knowing the ERT have got the city covered and operate at a heightened awareness and fitness level.