SHERIFF’S EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM IS ELITE, AND NOW, COUNTY-WIDE
By Ejvind Boccolini
The brand new Morris County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team is now a county-wide effort, including law enforcement officials not only from within the Sheriff’s Office, but those selected from law enforcement agencies around the county.
Those individuals with the highest qualifications and skill level earned their place on this elite team, which now includes 16 selected officers, in addition to the 17 from the Sheriff’s Office (from two different bureaus – the Bureau of Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Corrections) that were selected prior to the recent testing.
The S.E.R.T (Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team) Commander Eugene Fluri, was interviewed recently by the Morristown News about his background and philosophies behind this difficult law enforcement work.
Fluri served 26 years with the state police, and retired as the regional commander (captain) in Troop B (northern New Jersey). Before that he was the station commander with the Marine Service Unit, in Port Newark, NJ, and previously a member of an elite emergency response unit in another region of New Jersey. He started his career by serving 10 years on the road as a New Jersey State Trooper.
His extensive experience and training will lend itself well to the S.E.R.T. unit, and now Sheriff Edward Rochford is mentioning how honored he is to have Fluri as Commander.
Fluri calls it a “unique opportunity” because this is a now county-wide effort – and the first time Morris County has an emergency response unit like this one.
“This team is brand new,” Fluri said, adding that he likes the mentoring aspect.
Fluri said his team has an excellent mix of veteran officers; individuals with military experience; young, aspiring officers; and former tactical officers all with the strength, stamina, and know-how to make for a superb team.
“I’m really happy with the selection,” he said.
These individuals chosen for the team have endured some of the most rigorous workouts and nurtured courage and determination for what can be, quite simply, very high-risk work. And the training is, indeed, continuous for members of this team.
The selection process includes physical testing; firearm’s testing; a verbal test; SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics) training course; and a medical screening. All current members succeeded through these phases before being chosen, and then recently a ceremony was held in which they were officially sworn in.
They perform search and rescue missions, respond to crimes, emergencies, natural disasters, high-risk arrests, and threats of all kinds to the community. They provide dignitary protection as well, and work with the secret service upon request.
Fluri explained that sometimes, nothing much happens during certain portions of the day. But other times, a true emergency exists – or great danger exists – and SERT members put their high level of physical, mental and intuitive skills to work.
Fluri said, with the individuals on the SERT team, “integrity has to be a huge, huge part of our personnel.” They have to want the job for the right reasons, he said.
In the course of providing their service to the county, they are continuing to train, and provide coverage in discreet ways – as SERT members did for the Super Bowl – though they were in plain clothes and not known to members of the public.
In Morris County, the emergency response team dates back to the early 1990s, though this is now the first time that all agencies in the county can participate, if selected.
The team is on the path of continuous learning, Fluri said, noting that there are always new factors in our community and our world, and they have to continue to branch out, and observe and study what is new.
SWAT teams have been around since the 1920s, but became more prominent in metropolitan areas and cities during times of civil unrest, particularly in the 1960s. In the past, they were referred to a “riot squads.”
Fluri said there is a need for these teams, and they have to be governed and stay within the constitution.
Fluri said his team trains for “all threats, all emergencies, all crimes.”
In addition some tasks mentioned in this article, SERT members provide local law enforcement agencies with assistance against active shooters, search and rescue operations, floods and other natural disasters, and train weekly for responding to these calls.
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