LITHIA, Fla. - Homeland Security special response team agents often finish executing arrest warrants by banging open a front door, throwing a "flash bang" device inside to create a distraction, then storming in with their M-4 rifles.
It's dangerous work that can take years of training, and Wednesday, the SRT agents took ABC Action News and other news media outlets along for an inside look.
"It's constantly changing," explained agent Russell Ricalde.
Ricalde just returned from Puerto Rico where he and his team arrested suspects for a gang investigation. Because many are considered high-threat, Ricalde showed us how they used their tactical skills to clear a house.
"Number one will come in the door, take that corner, then pivot around," he explained.
Then, it was our turn. We each trained briefly with an M-4 loaded safely with paint bullets. The equipment's heavy and it's hard to see.
"How do we know who to shoot?" I asked as we entered the house.
That's when it really hit. This job isn't as easy as it may look to some.
"It's not like what you see on TV," laughed agent Bill Williger.
That's exactly why Homeland Security invited us to train with them and film it all.
"A lot of people just don't know who we are," explained agent Kevin Power. "We figured after 23 years, it's finally time to come out of the shadows."
After learning about their weapons, we ended the day riding in an "MRAP" vehicle, which stands for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected.
Agent Williger drove us to rescue a "down officer", just as he did two years ago when two St. Petersburg Police officers were killed during a shoot-out.
"The speed limit on this is about 55 and we had it up to about 65 or 70 trying to get it there as quickly as we could," Williger said.
As I held the shield while we rescued the officer, I realized, the job's got a lot of mechanics, but it takes a lot of heart.
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