Personnel, Training, Recognition & Responses
The Clandestine Lab Team was formed under a federal grant in 1988 with six members and today consists of 24 officers including two certified supervisors, 16 certified responders, four alternate / support members, and two certified officers utilized as additional resources. Over 90 percent of these officers serve as an additional duty assignment with their regular time responsible to other full time units within the department such as patrol, investigations and traffic.
Also attached to the lab team are members of the Special Investigations Unit, who are responsible for the actual follow-up investigations of lab responses. These investigators often assist with search warrants, interviews, evidence processing and case presentation to the Pierce County prosecutor' s office for criminal charging.
Each certified member must undergo specialized lab training that includes a 40 hour Basic Lab certification course, advanced investigative and evidence sampling classes, advanced tactical entry and weapons training, an annual medical exam and ongoing monthly training classes. Some members have also achieved advanced supervisory training and certification as hazardous material technicians.
The Clandestine Lab team utilizes many unique pieces of equipment to accomplish their mission including air monitoring devices, chemical resistant suits, gloves and boots, self contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), digital video devices and current computer technology. The team deployed a new 26-wide body command response vehicle in 2000, which is equipped with all specialized equipment, five work stations, a computer support station and a command conference room.
Many members of the Clandestine Lab team have been recognized for their projects and achievements within the team, including Medal of Merit and Officer of the Year recipients. The team has also been recognized both regionally and nationally and is often viewed as one of the leaders among lab response teams due to their professionalism. The teams' policies, procedures and protocols have been used as a blueprint in the formation of other teams in Washington State.
The Clandestine Lab team has experienced constant response growth over the past years, with 25 responses in 1994 and 195 responses in 1999. The geographical impact has expanded from a rural setting in the early 1990s, to every possible geographical site within the county today. This now impacts urban, suburban and rural communities within the county, and includes homes, apartments, motels, commercial properties and vacant land.
For More Information
For more information, contact the Pierce County Sheriff's Department administration at (253) 798-7530.