The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office Domestic Security Unit is responsible for collaborating with the US Department of Homeland Security as well as other federal, state and local agencies to ensure that our local area is prepared to respond to acts of terrorism or natural disasters.
Domestic Security acts as a liaison between the Sheriff’s Office and the Department of Homeland Security. Whenever an event occurs or intelligence is obtain by patrol officers or investigators that may resemble terrorism, that information is reported to the Domestic Security Unit and in turn is reported to the Department of Homeland Security.
The Domestic Security Unit is solely responsible for preparing the Sheriff’s Office to respond to natural disasters locally and regionally. The most common natural disasters along the Gulf Coast are hurricanes, and when hurricanes approach the Pensacola Area, it is the responsibility of the Domestic Security Unit to work closely with the Escambia County Emergency Operations Center to meet the law enforcement and security needs of the county during the emergency. The unit is also responsible for activating and maintaining the Law Enforcement Emergency Operations Center, which oversees the law enforcement function throughout the storm.
When natural disasters threaten other locations throughout the region, the Domestic Security Unit is prepared to assist through the Disaster Response Team. Established in 2005, the Disaster Response Team has responded to assist several other agencies following devastating hurricanes. Most notable was Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Sheriff’s Office Disaster Response Unit responded to assist Harrison County Mississippi and within hours of their arrival, the Disaster Response Team has established a communication infrastructure and set up a portable field kitchen to provide food for the first responders.
Because Pensacola is in the heart of the Gulf Coast and the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for law enforcement functions on Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key, the Domestic Security Unit also oversee operation of the Marine Unit. Currently, the Marine Unit consists of three boats that are utilized to patrol the local waters and ensure boating safety. These boats are also used to establish a continuous system of monitoring critical structures and waterways against potential terrorism measures. During major events such as the Blue Angel’s Air Show, these boats are used to conduct bridge sweeps, assist other agencies and monitor waterway traffic.
Rapid Response Team
In 2010, the Sheriff’s Office will implement a Rapid Response Team, which will be overseen by the Domestic Security Unit and will consist of a team of officers trained to respond to hazardous chemical incidents.