Critical Incident Response Team

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Critical Incident Response Team
Active2004 - Present
CountryAustralia Australia
AgencyVictoria Police
TypePolice tactical unit
RoleLaw enforcement
Part ofSecurity Services Division
Sworn officers187[1]

The Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT) is a specialist unit of the Victoria Police that provides assistance to general duties police, including a negotiator capability, to resolve high risk incidents utilising specialist tactics and equipment.[2] CIRT was formed to conduct regular patrols of metropolitan Melbourne 24-hours, seven-day-per-week, ready to rapidly respond to incidents in Melbourne, and if necessary, in regional Victoria, by a small team of officers.[3] CIRT has evolved to include conducting planned operations for high risk searches and arrests.[4]


A Critical Incident Response Team member at a siege in Belmont, Geelong on 27 September 2012.

In March 2004, the Force Response Unit (FRU) launched the CIRT concept consisting of two teams of officers patrolling in a Van each to provide specialist assistance to general duties police with a primary focus on tactical support and negotiation capabilities supported by a greater range of less-than-lethal options, and as a consequence to relieve the Special Operations Group (SOG), the elite Police Tactical Group of Victoria Police, from attending incidents not within their call out criteria.[3][5][6][7] Prior to the creation of CIRT, the FRU had maintained the negotiator capability for Victoria Police.

The CIRT concept was similar to the United Kingdom police armed response vehicle (ARV) that patrols ready to respond to provide specialist assistance.[8] A CIRT unit became known as a Van due to their use of this vehicle similar to use of the acronym ARV. This concept was first considered by Victoria Police during the review of the Special Operations Group as part of Project Beacon conducted in 1995.[9] Each CIRT consisted of a Sergeant and three other officers, one of whom was a trained negotiator.[3] In 2010, three Vans were operated providing a third team.[10][11]

As the CIRT evolved, the Force Response Unit relinquished roles to the Operational Response Unit (ORU) formed in May 2010 including the sub unit Public Order Response Team (PORT) formed in June 2011, to focus on CIRT.[12]

Over time, certain less-than-lethal equipment used by CIRT became accessible to general duties police. In 2005, CIRT commenced using Tasers which were later trialled by general duties police in 2010.[3][13] From 2014 to 2017, Tasers were rolled-out to 37 24-hour police stations in regional Victoria for general duties use.[13][14] Flammable Oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray was replaced as a consequence of the Taser roll-out to a water based streamer as used by CIRT.[15] OC Foam that had been used by CIRT since inception, and that previously had only been available to general duties officers of the rank of Sergeant or above, was made available to all general duties officers in 2008.[3][16]

In December 2017, CIRT introduced Security Teams to patrol the Melbourne City Centre and also major events, including the use of unmarked vehicles, to enable faster response times in the event of a terrorism incident.[17][18]

The television police drama Rush produced by Network Ten from 2008 to 2011 was inspired by the CIRT concept.[19]

Notable incidents include the Bourke Street car attack in January 2017 with CIRT ramming the offender's vehicle and shooting the offender, the shooting of a couple at a fancy dress party at a King Street nightclub in July 2017, the fatal shooting of Mohammed Ibrahim in Kew in March 2020 and the fatal shooting of a male on the Monash Freeway in Dandenong North in May 2020.[20][21][22][23]


The primary function of CIRT is to provide a rapid specialised response to high risk incidents, such as:-[24]

  • Sieges
  • Barricade incidents
  • Armed offender incidents
  • Violent confrontations
  • Suicide interventions
  • High risk escorts
  • Chemical, biological, and/or radiological CBR incidents
  • Cell clearances for violent prisoners

The incidents pose a threat to general duties police or are difficult to resolve due to violence or other dangers. Any general duties police supervisor can request assistance from CIRT who rapidly respond if approved by a CIRT supervisor. CIRT has specialised training and is equipped with more "less than lethal" options to resolve an incident than general duties police.

An incident may fall within the call out criteria of the SOG such as a firearms incident. The SOG has significantly higher call-out criteria than a CIRT, such as requiring Senior Commissioned officer approval, and with Vans already patrolling, this enables CIRT to rapidly respond to the incident whilst awaiting SOG arrival with CIRT providing a cordon and containment.[25][26] On arrival of the SOG, CIRT can provide assistance to the SOG such as perimeter containment.

The majority of CIRT deployments are related to mental illness, for example between 2010 and 2011 of the total 685 call outs, 324 of these (47%) were mental illness related, with 29 percent of these mental illness call outs including drug and alcohol use.[27]

CIRT also provides close personal protection and the provision of security for protected witnesses.[4][28][29] CIRT provides trained and qualified police negotiators and equipment such as for Special Operations Group incidents.[28][30]


The CIRT is part of the Security Services Division of the Transit & Public Safety command within Victoria Police, which also includes the SOG, and has a reported strength of 187 officers, including nine female officers.[4][1][31] CIRT has about 50 negotiators who perform this role in addition to general CIRT duties.[30]

In 2013, CIRT formed the Tasked Operations team to conduct planned operations for high risk search warrants on premises and high risk arrests below the scope / deployment criteria of the SOG.[4] The Tasked Operations team consisting of 17 officers receives further training completing the Tactical Arrest Options Training (TAOT) to conduct forced entries.[4]


CIRT has three intakes each year, applicants are required to meet minimum fitness requirements and successfully complete an eight week training course.[1][32][33] Once qualified, officers have fitness tests every six months.[34] Every six weeks, one week is dedicated to firearms training and conducting exercises.[26]

Specialist courses are available to complete including the negotiator course, close personal protection course and tactical arrest options course.[26][4][35]


The original CIRT Vans were Mercedes-Benz Sprinters which were later replaced by Volkswagen Transporters. In 2018, CIRT received the SOG's former Lenco BearCat armoured vehicle.[36]

CIRT officers have a range of specialised equipment and weapons in their inventory ranging from ballistic and tactical vests, Team Wendy EXFIL helmets, Minuteman ballistic shields, Tasers, bean bag rounds, ferret rounds, gas masks, riot shields, ladders, breaching tools and various Oleoresin capsicum OC delivery systems.[5][29]

Officers are armed with Smith & Wesson M&P .40 pistols, SIG MCX SBR rifles and shotguns including the Kel-Tec KSG and Remington Model 870.[37][1][32][38] Officers were formerly issued the Heckler & Koch UMP .40 sub-machine gun.[32][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Yvette, Gray (24 July 2014). Behind the Line - Critical Incident Response Team (Television production). 3AW. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Specialist Roles". Victoria Police. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e Review of fatal shootings by Victoria Police / report of the Director, Police Integrity (PDF). Office of Police Integrity (Report). Parliamentary paper (Victoria. Parliament) ; no. 177, session 2003-2005. Melbourne: Government Printer. November 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Loncaric, Anthony. "High-risk arrests". Police life: the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. ISSN 0032-2598. Autumn 2014. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Critical Incident Response Team - The new look FRU" (PDF). Journal : The Police Association Victoria. Melbourne. June 2006. ISSN 1443-2307. Archived from the original (PDF) on 3 March 2016.
  6. ^ Silvester, John. "Police to launch anti-terror vehicles". The Age. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  7. ^ Hodgson, Shelley (2 March 2004). "Our new front line in the fight against terror". Herald Sun.
  8. ^ "QPS Violent Confrontations Review" (PDF). Queensland Police Service. 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
  9. ^ Silvester, John (3 June 1995). "Ideas to counter terror". The Sunday Age.
  10. ^ "Police trim a third off terror unit". The Age. 8 April 2010.
  11. ^ "SOG bears the brunt of police shortages" (PDF). Journal : The Police Association Victoria. Melbourne. May 2010. ISSN 1443-2307. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 August 2016.
  12. ^ Arnold, Chelsea. "Anywhere,". Police life : the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. pp. 22–23. ISSN 0032-2598. Autumn 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2017.
  13. ^ a b The Hon Denis Napthine MP (23 April 2014). "Tasers for all 24-hour regional police stations". Premier of Victoria (Press release). Archived from the original on 24 February 2015.
  14. ^ "Regional roll-out of Conducted Energy Devices completed in Colac". Victoria Police News (Press release). 4 October 2017. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017.
  15. ^ Spooner, Rania (22 September 2013). "Police ditch capsicum spray". The Age. Retrieved 13 October 2017.
  16. ^ "OC Foam". The Police Association Victoria (Press release). Archived from the original on 21 April 2008.
  17. ^ "New Rapid Response to Keep Melbourne Safe" (Press release). Victoria Police. 17 December 2017. Archived from the original on 17 December 2017.
  18. ^ "CIRT marking one year of rapid responses". Victoria Police News (Press release). 17 December 2018. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018.
  19. ^ "Rush - About the Show". Channel Ten. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  20. ^ Vedelago, Chris; Houston, Cameron (18 October 2019). "'Police failed catastrophically': Officer turns down Bourke St award". The Age. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  21. ^ Farnsworth, Sarah; staff (15 November 2019). "'Significant' compensation payout for couple shot by police inside Melbourne's Inflation nightclub". ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  22. ^ Murray-Atfield, Yara; staff (13 March 2020). "Police shoot man during attempted arrest after deadly stabbing spree across Melbourne's east". ABC News. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  23. ^ Pearson, Erin; Fox Koob, Simone (28 May 2020). "Man shot dead in Monash Freeway stand-off had mental health problems, police say". The Age. Retrieved 15 July 2020.
  24. ^ CCI 04/09 – Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT). Chief Commissioner’s Instruction. 22 May 2009.
  25. ^ "Behind the badge". Police life: the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. p. 5. ISSN 0032-2598. August 2007. Archived from the original on 1 September 2007.
  26. ^ a b c "Spotlight On". Victoria Police Career. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015.
  27. ^ Policing people who appear to be mentally ill (PDF). Office of Police Integrity (Report). Parliamentary paper (Victoria. Parliament) ; session 2010-12, no. 190. Melbourne: Victorian Government Printer. November 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  28. ^ a b Victoria Police - CIRT (Television production). Victoria Police. 17 September 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  29. ^ a b Connor, Amanda. "In full force". Police life: the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. ISSN 0032-2598. August 2009. Archived from the original on 18 April 2018.
  30. ^ a b Carnovale, Maria. "Mind over matter". Police life: the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. ISSN 0032-2598. Summer 2017. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  31. ^ Turner, Laura (26 December 2013). The Critical Incident Response Team (Television production). Nine News Melbourne. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  32. ^ a b c Daish, Alexis (2 October 2017). How Victoria Police plan to deal with the most dangerous offenders (Television production). Nine News Melbourne. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  33. ^ Ahern, Christin (7 April 2016). Critical incident cops (Television production). Today Show.
  34. ^ Kaila, Jon. "Tough? These women are CIRTS". Herald Sun. 11 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  35. ^ Taylor, Blue. "A Need to Negotiate". Police life: the Victoria Police magazine. Melbourne: Victoria Police. ISSN 0032-2598. August 2011. Retrieved 14 October 2017.
  36. ^ Hosking, Wes (28 July 2018). "Victoria Police Special Operations Group gets new BearCat armoured vehicles". Sunday Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 29 July 2018.
  37. ^ Critical Incident Response Team (Television production). Victoria Police. 16 April 2019. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  38. ^ Hosking, Wes (16 December 2018). "Victoria Police's Critical Incident Response Team on Christmas alert in Melbourne's CBD". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 21 December 2018.
  39. ^ Dowsley, Anthony (25 March 2017). "Victoria Police special operations, critical incident teams get new guns". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.

External links[edit]