STRAWBERRY PLAINS, Tenn. (WATE) — The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office released bodycam footage Sunday afternoon showing the standoff that occurred earlier in the week. Monday, WATE 6 On Your Side met the men wearing those body cameras.
“Once the OC went in it was probably 35-40 seconds for it to take effect and then he came right out to us,” said the Special Operations Response Team’s Leader, Jeremy Nash, of the moment part of his team launched a pepper-ball gun into the room where a suspect was pent up while the other part of the team waited outside.
“He tried to set the floor on fire which was kind of a concern for us, but once we were able to get him into custody we were able to extinguish the fire,” added Nash of the standoff situation Friday. “The best thing you could do is plan for the worst and hope for the best, that’s kind of the way the team operates.”
S.O.R.T. is made up of 14 law enforcement members from both the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the White Pine Police Department. Nash and the S.O.R.T. Commander, Mark Snowden, said the members of this team are ready to jump into action 24/7.
“Their level of expertise comes from extra training, it comes from extra requirements, that we hold them to a higher standard than we hold other people too,” said Nash.
The team is called in for various high-risk situations. “Missing persons, high-risk warrants, barricaded suspects, search warrants, I mean we stay pretty active with our team,” said Snowden. He also said the team has been busier lately, getting six calls in just the last couple of weeks.
The high-risk situations and more frequent calls are just some of the reasons they use high-tech equipment, like their specially made vehicles.
“It is fully bulletproof, so our team can sit in this vehicle and withstand rifle rounds, anything, it’ll withstand a bomb blowing up next to it,” said Nash of the team’s military-style vehicle. They also have a second vehicle to hold the team’s gear and a couple more team members. “Most of the operations we do require a level of speed and surprise, these vehicles really help us in excelling in that area.”
They said it’s all about keeping their community safe, even if it means missing out on some of their own life moments.
“You’re going to miss out on ballgames, you’re going to miss out on dinners, and anniversaries, and parties, and events,” said Nash. “All those guys know it and they do it without complaining because they have an understanding of what it means to serve this community.”