The Special Operations Division consists of the Special Events and Homeland Security Coordinator, the Strategic Traffic Unit, the K-9/Mounted Patrol Unit, the Security Unit, and the Animal Control Unit. The Division has a wide and varied array of responsibilities and personnel. The Special Events and Homeland Security Coordinator is a collateral duty assigned to the Division Commander, who is responsible for arranging and coordinating all City special events (parades, marathons, etc.), providing necessary Police resources for these events, maintaining the Department’s Emergency Deployment Plan, acting as coordinator for emergency response and NIMS (National Incident Management System) and liaising with other jurisdictions and with other State and Federal emergency response agencies. The Division is commanded by a Lieutenant.
The Strategic Traffic Unit is principally responsible for the planning, analysis and coordination of the Portsmouth Police Department’s traffic services. The Unit conducts analysis of traffic crash data and seeks to proactively reduce the number and severity of motor vehicle crashes in the City. The Unit is also responsible for the investigation of traffic fatalities and severe accidents, and follow-up investigations of hit and run accidents. The Strategic Traffic Unit also certifies public vehicles and vehicle operators (taxis and wreckers) and conducts routine inspections to ensure compliance. The STU also conducts commercial motor vehicle enforcement operations and organizes and operates several DMV grant funded checkpoints. A high point for the Unit is it’s training for, organizing, and hosting of the annual Chesapeake Bay Motorcycle Rodeo – a for charity (the March of Dimes) police motorcycle skills contest. The Strategic Traffic Unit is supervised by a Sergeant and has five Officers and one civilian Administrative Assistant assigned.
The Portsmouth Police K-9 Unit was established in 1959 and is versatile part of the Department that covers a variety of functions including being a part of the SWAT team. K-9 teams routinely back up Uniform Patrol officers on calls, respond to burglary and robbery alarms and in-progress calls such as burglaries, robberies, rapes, assaults, armed subjects, fights, disorderly crowds, etcetera. The K-9 Unit routinely assists the Special Investigations Division and the Community Services Unit with public demonstrations and displays at various functions (such as career days or civic league events). The K-9 teams are also used in Portsmouth Public Schools to scan lockers and vehicles for narcotics and firearms. The K-9 Unit utilizes mostly imported dogs (Dutch and German Shepherds and Malinois). The Unit is supervised by a Sergeant and is comprised of five Officers. All six members have dogs assigned.
The Portsmouth Police Department is one of only two agencies in Hampton Roads that deploys a Mounted Patrol Unit. The Mounted Patrol Unit performs all basic police patrol functions with the exception of transporting prisoners. The Mounted Patrol Unit provides a high visibility patrol unit that is also useful in large crowd situations, where the horse’s large size and mass can be used to great effect. The Mounted Patrol Unit is also utilized at Department ceremonial functions, such as funerals and during the annual Police Memorial Day. The Mounted Patrol Unit serves as an excellent community policing focal point wherever it is deployed as the horse invariably draws a crowd of citizens and visitors. The Mounted Patrol Unit is supervised by the K-9 Unit Sergeant, and is comprised of one officer.
The Security Unit was founded in the early 1970s and is comprised of two Corporals and five Security Officers. All members of the Unit are armed Special Conservators of the Peace with arrest and enforcement powers on City property. The Unit provides support to other Department units by addressing such issues as parking violations, removal of abandoned vehicles, and by performing security duties on City property. The Security Unit also provides operational support for all City special events and also provides security at City Council meetings. The Security Unit is supervised by the Special Units Division Commander.
The Animal Control Unit responds to complaints regarding animal bites, stray animals, wild animals, dangerous at large animals, animals in distress, and injured animals made both by citizens and by other Department Units. Animal Control officers take stray or surrendered animals to the Portsmouth Humane Society which provides for the care and housing of these animals. The Portsmouth Humane Society is located at 4022 Seaboard Court. The Animal Control Unit is supervised by a civilian supervisor who reports to the Special Units Division Commander.