The North Hills Special Response Team or NHSRT was started in 2005 when the original eight members of Ross Township’s SRT team joined with seven officers from the Northern Regional Police Department. Although the unit started out with a lack of equipment and funding, it made up for it in determination, talent and purpose. This purpose was to provide the communities of the North Hills with a rapid response unit, able and equipped to deal with critical incidents that were outside the abilities of traditional police response. Since that time, the team has grown by leaps and bounds.
The NHSRT team is a multi-jurisdictional SWAT team that is now comprised of police officers not only from Ross Township and Northern Regional, but also from West Deer Township, Shaler Township, O’Hara Township, Indiana Township, Hampton Township, Ohio Township, McCandless, Franklin Park, Etna Borough, Millvale Borough, and the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office. There are also Tactical Medics assigned from Ross/WestView EMS. Currently the team has 31 officers and medics assigned to this specialized unit and they are always seeking additional officers from the various North Hills communities.
The team, which is commanded by Sergeants John Sicillia and David Eckels specializes in incidents such as barricaded suspects, hostage situations, warrant services and V.I.P. protection. In keeping with their motto “Solve Forsit” which is Latin for “Solve the Problem,” they also have the ability to conduct operations in search and rescue and natural disaster response. NHSRT now boasts two, mobile command posts. One used for crisis negotiations, the other for tactical operations. Additionally, the team has recently added an armored personnel carrier or APC to its inventory.
NHSRT trains twice a month at various locations throughout the greater Pittsburgh area and is in keeping with the standards set for by the National Tactical Officers Association or NTOA. Officers from the team have also trained with SWAT teams from the FBI, Pennsylvania State Police, City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Port Authority ESU, South Hills SHACOG CERT, Ohio Highway Patrol SRT and the Federal Air Marshalls. This training is a continually ongoing process during an Officer’s tenure with SRT and ensures that each individual is highly competent in his job.