Controlled Chaos: Inside training with HSI El Paso’s Special Response Team

(Credit: CBS4)

You can’t see their faces. If you’re lucky, you know their first names. Only their family members and closest friends know what they do for a living.

And they like it that way.

They are the men who make up the Special Response Team at Homeland Security Investigations in El Paso.

“We’re a specialized team that takes care of any situation, or any incident, that may potentially harm this country,” said the team’s leader. CBS4 is not revealing his identity, nor the identities of his team members, for security purposes. “It’s rapid. It’s quick and a violence of action. We have to have the upper hand going into a situation,” the team leader said.

The El Paso squad is one of only 17 SRTs in the nation. They cover 800 miles of southwest border. They’re responsible for investigations from Lordsburg, New Mexico, to Alpine, Texas. They also conduct operations as far north as Albuquerque. At times, they will travel across the country to assist other divisions with large-scale operations.

“You see on TV the Hollywood aspect of it. But when you go into these types of situations, you’re constantly thinking about what might happen, what you need to do, what your role is,” said one of the newest SRT members, who is based in HSI Albuquerque.

HSI El Paso’s Special Response Team started in 2009. On average, they conduct two dozen high-risk operations each year. Not once has a team member or the suspect they’ve taken down been injured. The team attributes its its spotless record to relentless training.

“They are the most dangerous, but I feel with a group that trains the way that we do, I actually feel safer going into these type of situations with these individuals, this team, than I would if I were going with a team that didn’t train as much as we do,” said the team member from Albuquerque.

His team leader added, “Every day we go home safe is an absolutely wonderful day.”

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