Metro Special Tactics and Response (S.T.A.R.) operates as a specialized unit within the Homeland Security Bureau, providing personnel trained in the use of specialized equipment to handle a wide variety of critical incidents. Some of the areas that members have expertise include:
• Intentional releases of hazardous materials
• Hostage taking
• Armed Assaults
• Active Shooter
• Events with a large number of ill, injured or deceased
• Threats to commit a terrorist act
• Barricaded subjects
• Civil disobedience
• Dignitary Escort and Protection
• Waterway Operations
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Metro S.T.A.R. has formed a Weapons of Mass Destruction Response Team. Team members are trained as Hazardous Materials Technicians and are capable of operating in contaminated areas. The team has procured individual protective equipment, hazardous environment monitoring capability, and acquired a modern armored vehicle.
Training for this specialized unit requires members to practice traditional tactical operation skills while utilizing specialized personal protective and monitoring equipment to protect them from chemical, biological, and radiological hazards.
The Metro S.T.A.R. Entry Team personnel have received training from private sector organizations as well as from the United States Military. Team training also consists of calisthenics, strength exercises, firearms drills, team movement drills, high risk warrant service, hostage rescue, barricaded persons, weapons qualification, rappelling and downed officer extraction.
In addition to responding to crisis calls, the team serves high risk arrest and narcotics warrants. Metro S.T.A.R. also provides motorcade and site security when a dignitary comes into town. If the dignitary stays overnight, security is provided around the clock until the dignitary leaves the city.
The Metro S.T.A.R Rifle Team provides cover and support for Entry Team members, Hostage Negotiators, or other officers in critical situations. Team members are deployed in pairs, with one officer serving as an observer, relaying information to the Command Post, and the other serving as the precision marksman.
Team members are trained to a high level of proficiency shooting with several different calibers of weapon. Officers practice twice a month and qualify three times a year with each weapon. The firearm training course changes monthly to ensure that officers have experience in a variety of shooting situations. Team members practice in all weather conditions, learning how to adapt to any elements that could be present during a critical situation.
Crisis Negotiation Team
The Crisis Negotiation Team is a dynamic combination of Des Moines Police Officers and Polk County Sheriff Deputies of all ranks. The highly successful team trains multiple times a year and attends outside trainings or conferences annually as well. The negotiation team has been called upon to assist persons in emotional distress and in bringing potentially deadly stand-offs to a peaceful ending. The team is a member of the National Tactical Officers Association negotiation section and involves itself in trainings with other Crisis Negotiation Teams in order to continuously sharpen their skills.
Metro S.T.A.R. Dive Team undertakes assignments to locate and recover drowning victims, recover stolen property and/or evidence, recovery of stolen vehicles that have been dumped into water and other water-related assignments.
Every two years, the Dive Team assists the City Engineering Department in performing bridge-pillar inspections. In total, the team inspects 14 bridges, saving the city thousands of dollars.
Most team training occurs on the two major rivers running through Des Moines. Training also occasionally occurs in the surrounding lakes and sometimes even swimming pools. Various search techniques are practiced to locate and recover objects underwater with little to no visibility.