Special Emergency Response Team (Queensland)

For the ex-Canadian counter-terrorist unit, see Special Emergency Response Team.
Special Emergency Response Team
Active 1968 - Present
Country Australia
Branch Queensland Police Service
Role Law Enforcement, Domestic Counter-Terrorism and Tactical Law Enforcement
Size 60 full-time officers
Part of Specialist Services Branch
Garrison/HQ Cairns and Brisbane
Motto(s) "Brothers in Arms"

Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) is the Police Tactical Group of the Queensland Police, Australia. SERT is part of the Specialist Response Branch within the Operations Support Command which incorporates the Explosive Operations Response Team (Bomb Squad) and the Negotiator Coordination Unit.[1] This command was formed in August 2008 removing these units from the Specialist Services Branch. The Specialist Response Branch was born within Operations Support Command.


In mid-1966, Jack Pizzey, then Minister for Education and Police, instructed the Commissioner of Police to form a Police Emergency Squad. Hand picked Queensland officers completed specialised training with the New South Wales Police Forces similarly named unit and became operational in 1968.[2] Initially, the Squad included 33 men, handpicked and trained in tactics to apprehend armed offenders in siege situations, hijacking of aircraft and counter-terrorism.[2]

In 1987, the Emergency Squad was divided into sub-units and renamed the Tactical Response Group (TRG). In 1989 the Tactical Response team, a part of the TRG became a separate unit – the Special Weapons and Operations Squad known as SWOS. In 1992, SWOS was further re-organised into its current form and renamed Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) .[2][3]

Prior to 1992 the unit was part-time made up of officers drawn from other areas of the Police and performing tactical duties as required. Since 1992 the unit is a full-time dedicated police tactical unit and is now known as the Special Emergency Response Team (SERT).[3]

In April 2011, SERT took delivery of their first Lenco BearCat armoured vehicle[4][5] with the second being provided by the Commonwealth Government in June 2012.[6]


The groups missions is to provide a specialist service to the community and support police operations by the attainment of a high level of expertise and professionalism in resolving incidents which exceed normal police capabilities.[3]

SERT supports negotiators and other police on the scene of high risk incidents, providing a safe environment for negotiations to occur, as well as containing threats and providing emergency tactical intervention as required. The negotiation unit currently consists of 112 part-time and 3 full-time police negotiators with 27 qualified as counter-terrorist negotiators. SERT also provides assistance to other police requiring specialist equipment and skills for low risk operations such as rural drug searches or a specialist roping capability.


To qualify for the selection course Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) hopefuls have to undergo a gruelling fitness regime.

They must complete a minimum of 10 chin ups, 35 push ups and 100 sit ups, then run 10 km in under 46 minutes and finally swim 400 metres in under 10 minutes. All this is done consecutively without a rest. This is the minimum fitness standard required, and is assessed with zero tolerance.

Following this is a further three day course. The three-day selection course is regarded as the most difficult and physically demanding course within the Queensland Police Service (QPS). It tests physical and mental endurance through individual and team tasks, problem solving, sleep deprivation, basic survival skills and by challenging phobias for example heights and closed spaces.[3]

Following the three day Pre-Selection course, candidates who are successful are invited to attend a three-month Selection course where all the skills of the Unit are taught. The first four weeks consist of Physical Training, 2 hours in the morning and 2 hours in the evening, interspersed with Weapons Validations and training. The next two weeks consist of rural tactics and marksman training. The next six weeks consist of Close quarter tactics, methods of entry, tactical driving, roping, fast roping and other skills.

Upon graduation, successful applicants can apply for available positions where they are put into a team where further training and validations are required before becoming operational. Specialist courses are then attended including Water Operations, Breaching, Advanced Roping, Advanced Close Quarter Tactics and opportunities to attend advanced training with other Police and Military Units.

Principal roles

SERTs primary roles include:[7]

Queen Street Mall Gunman

Arguably SERT's most prominent public appearance was during an incident in the Queen Street Mall in the city of Brisbane on March 8, 2013.

SERT was called to deal with a man who was brandishing a handgun in the busy mall in what became a 90-minute stand off.[8]

SERT officers resolved the incident by using Bean bag rounds, subsequently a SERT officer also shot the offender in the left arm twice with a semi-automatic rifle in order to prevent him from discharging his weapon. The suspect survived and was arrested.[9]

Similar Australian units

International units

See also


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