The mission of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Tactics and Response Team (STAR) Team is the preservation of life and property during critical incidents and high-risk operations. The STAR Team is called upon to respond for service of high-risk search and arrest warrants; incidents involving barricaded suspects, hostage rescues, active shooters, crowd control, rescue during natural or man-made disasters and other situations requiring resources beyond the capacity of the Patrol Division. STAR Team members also provide training in tactics to other members of the Sheriff’s Office during directed training exercises.
The STAR Team is currently composed of 17 members. Members participate on the team as a collateral duty, in addition to their full-time assignments within the Sheriff’s Office. Assignments within the team include: the ground team (containment and entry); snipers; drone operators, and tactical medics. As an additional resource, a Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) is attached to the STAR Team and is available for establishing dialog with subjects at a critical incident, in an effort to attempt a safe resolution through communication.
Members of the STAR Team are selected for the team during a competitive process, in which their physical fitness, firearms skills, communications skills, decision-making abilities, and job performance are evaluated. Once selected to the team, members are sent to a one-week Basic SWAT School, where they receive concentrated instruction in tactics, movement and searching techniques, and firearms handling and marksmanship. Members of STAR Team train together two days a month and receive other outside training throughout the year from other sources such as the Heartland Tactical Officers Association.
The STAR Team maintains a wide array of equipment to allow its members to accomplish their mission safely. An armored vehicle and remotely-operated camera devices allow the STAR Team to operate in and search many areas without exposing themselves to gunfire. Members of the STAR Team are equipped with rifles, shotguns, gas masks, and ballistic helmets and vests. They also employ a variety of less-lethal devices and chemical agents to reduce the need to use lethal force during an encounter.
Members of the STAR Team are expected to be available “on-call” at short notice, dedicate a significant amount of personal time to training, and strive for continuous improvement in the performance of their mission: saving lives.