With an emphasis on reducing staff and inmate injuries, the S.E.R.T. team was first formed in 1993. Training combined physical fitness with basic scenarios dealing with cell extractions, jail incidents or mini-riots, high-risk inmate transport, and loose-prisoner drills.
The team was selected from Corrections personnel who took pride in themselves and their career field. They regularly donated their off duty time to train, as well as purchasing their own basic equipment.
The Merced County Sheriff’s Department funded the purchase of extraction shields, elbow and knee protection, helmets, and other squads styled gear. The team’s individual members regularly had input into creating protocols, training scenarios, policies, and procedures.
The team had a core of six members for their first five years and many other correctional officers tried out and eventually moved on to other endeavors.
The S.E.R.T. team operated with these main principles:
Only use the force necessary to accomplish the goal
These tactics resulted in a reduction in injuries to correctional officers and inmates, created a safer environment, reduced workers’ compensation, and medical costs, and added a deterrent to inmate violence. The team’s positive presence boosted the confidence and pride of Corrections staff, giving them a well-needed solution to potentially violent situations.