New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit

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New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit
Flag of the New York City Police Department.svg
Common nameNYPD Emergency Service Unit
AbbreviationNYPD ESU
Motto"At Your Service... Anything, Anytime, Anywhere!"
Agency overview
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionNew York, New York, U.S.
Map of New York Highlighting New York City.svg
Map of New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit's jurisdiction.
Size1,214.4 km²
Legal jurisdictionNew York City
Police Officer/DetectivesApprox 400
Police Commissioner responsible
Agency executive
  • Deputy Chief Wilson Aramboles, Commanding Officer
Parent agencyNew York City Police Department

The New York City Police Department Emergency Service Unit is a component of the NYPD Special Operations Bureau. The unit is uniquely trained and equipped to perform tactical (Special Weapons and Tactics, SWAT) and technical rescue duty for other department elements. Members of ESU are cross-trained in multiple disciplines for police, first aid, and rescue work.

The WMD, Weapons of Mass Destruction Unit, is tasked with investigating and responding to any incidents regarding weapons classified as “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and also assisting the Bomb Squad on suspicious package calls.

In addition, its Canine Unit helps with searches for perpetrators and missing persons. ESU is always on patrol (all three tours, 365 days a year) with 10 Heavy Rescue trucks, each ordinarily manned by a police officer and a sergeant, and often more than twice as many smaller Radio Emergency Patrol vehicles containing two ESU police officers. There are also two or more citywide patrol sergeants or lieutenants in unmarked vehicles on duty at all times to supervise ESU operations where needed. These are called "U-Cars" on the NYPD radio, for example, "U-5".

Field organizations[edit]

The 10 Emergency Service Squads (ESS) are divided geographically as:

Emergency Service Squads (or Trucks):

ESS-11 is not a patrol squad but a vehicle manned by trainers and support staff assigned to ESU headquarters at Floyd Bennett Field and can respond to nearby incidents or as back-up to other Emergency Service Squads when required.

Lieutenants/Sergeants are assigned as citywide patrol supervisors to supervise multiple "trucks" (squads). They patrol as either U-5 (Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) or U-4 (Manhattan and the Bronx) and respond to major incidents within their assigned boroughs for the tour.

The ESU Canine Unit maintains 36 dogs-handler teams which include three bloodhounds and several dogs cross-trained in cadaver recovery. The ESU canines are an integral part of the US-TF1 Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Team as deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Apprehension Tactical Team or "A-Team" is ESU's full-time tactical element. It was originally stood up as a unit in 1989 in order to supplement the ESU's sometimes overwhelming requirement to perform raids throughout the city. A-Team members strictly perform tactical missions which, on a day-to-day basis are typically High-Risk search warrants. The A-Team is widely considered to have the highest operational tempo of any US tactical team, sometimes performing as many as 800–1000 missions per year. The team can be called upon to support any unit within the NYPD, federal law enforcement agencies or outside police departments upon official request for tactical entries. Members of the Apprehension Team are also utilized as tactical and firearms trainers both within ESU and to other NYPD units. The A-Team has participated in many of the city's most notable criminal take-down operations of recent decades many times without recognition. Members of the team are recruited from within ESU, based on team needs and assignment to the team is highly selective. A-Team members are still required to maintain all of their periodic ESU certifications and proficiencies, and must be able to support the ESU on any type of operation should the need arise.

ESU officers investigate a subway suicide on the IND Queens Boulevard Line platforms at Lexington Avenue - 53rd Street.


The Emergency Service Unit currently utilizes numerous vehicles including:

  • Eleven Heavy Rescue trucks which are referred to as "Trucks". Trucks 1–10 were built by Saulsbury Fire Apparatus (now part of E-One).[1] Truck 11 was built by Ferrara Fire Apparatus.[2]
  • 40 Radio Emergency Patrol (REP) trucks which are referred to as "Cars" are ESU's work horse and used for regular patrol. Each REP is equipped with SCUBA gear, emergency medical equipment, rope rescue equipment, forcible entry equipment and rescue equipment including hydraulic rams and the Hurst Tool (Jaws of Life). REP trucks are built by Odyssey Specialty Vehicles.[3][4]
  • ESU's Medical Squad mans two ambulances.[5]
  • Four Lenco BearCat and two Lenco Peacekeeper armored vehicles 1 International POT (Photo Observation Truck), 1 Lenco BEAR (Ballistic Engineered Armored Rescue Vehicle).
  • 14 portable light tower generator units stationed throughout the city. In addition to the towers, ESU can also deploy 60 kW, 90 kW, 100 kW and 200 kW generators upon request for additional power when required.
  • Four Mobile Light Generators which are specialized light-power units with tower generators mounted in the bed of pickup trucks.[6]
  • 100 kW mobile generator trucks designated as Mobile Auxiliary Light Truck (MALT)s. It has the capability of supplying enough power to light up Grand Central Terminal.[7]
  • Construction Accident Response Vehicles (CARV) which responds to construction accidents and is used to stabilize structures and rescue entrapped workers/personnel.[8]
  • Emergency Support Vehicle (ESV) which is complete with a motorized Zodiac inflatable boat and deployable rescue airbag.[9][10]
  • ESU also has Twelve jet skis, plus numerous Zodiac inflatable boats assigned to units throughout the NYPD.


The personnel selected for ESU become highly trained members of the NYPD who perform rescue, SWAT and other high risk tactical, counter-narcotic and counter-terror operations.

There are minimum time-in-grade requirements before an NYPD officer can apply to transfer to ESU. Police Officers must have a minimum of 5 years in the department with a minimum annual rating of 3.5. Supervisors in the rank of sergeants and lieutenants must have 2 years in rank before being assigned to ESU. In addition, all ESU candidates must be approved by a group of current ESU members to ensure that they will integrate into the unit successfully.

Casualties/line of duty deaths[edit]

ESU lost more members (14 out of 23 NYPD officers) than any other NYPD unit during the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

ESU in popular culture[edit]


  • 330 Park a novel by Stanley Cohen
  • Snipers Moon a novel by Carsten Stroud
  • E-Man: Life in the NYPD Emergency Service Unit – Al Sheppardd's story of ten years in the Emergency Services Unit.
  • NYPD - On the streets with the Emergency Service Unit by Samuel Katz (1995).


Television series[edit]

Also seen extensively in:

Video games[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]