Exclusive: An inside look at the NYPD's prestigious Strategic Response Group

Monday, May 21, 2018
Exclusive: Inside the NYPD's Strategic Response Group
Reporter N.J. Burkett takes us inside the elite unit.

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- In the safest big city in America, a man is being shot. Then, Sergeant Dan Conforti and his partner, Officer Jason Torres, are on the move.

"218 West 140th Street, caller reports three shots fired!" is heard over the radio.

The citywide dispatcher isn't even finished when Torres switches on the lights and siren and drops the accelerator. The SUV roars to life, and in an instant, we're careening through the streets of Upper Manhattan.

We make it to 140th Street in less than three minutes, as other units converge on the crime scene from every direction. I watch as a gunshot victim is carried from his apartment building, bleeding and barely conscious with a bullet wound in his abdomen. Other officers take up positions around the scene. They're checking hallways and alleyways, determined to keep the gunman from getting away.

Torres and Conforti are members of the elite Strategic Response Group, the NYPD's rapid deployment force, and Eyewitness News was granted extraordinary access to follow the men and women of the SRG. It's the first inside look at the unit since it was formed three years ago and mobilized when NYPD commanders need to flood the zone.

"It's our mobility, the rapid response, our ability to deploy our teams seamlessly throughout the city at a given moment," SRG commanding officer Inspector John D'Adamo said. "That's what the unit is all about...We can be deployed anywhere in the city, from Staten Island to the Bronx, we have a command in each borough. Each one is fully equipped and tasked and ready to go."

Inspector D'Adamo explains how the unit works:

Commanding Officer Inspector John D'Adamo explains the mission of the NYPD Strategic Response Group.

It's a specialized squad of 700 highly-trained, heavily armed officers assigned to potential trouble spots throughout the city. Whether it's patrolling for gang members in Harlem or deterring terrorists in Times Square, the SRG also responds to active shooters and mass demonstrations.

"When they go into buildings to look for an active shooter, they're the first line of defense," SRG executive officer Inspector Gerry Dowling said.

Its Disorder Control Unit (DCU), designed for crowd control, terrorist attacks and civil unrest, is the largest of its kind in the nation.

"They can get to a scene quickly?" I asked the DCU commander, Dave Miller.

"Yes, they can," he said. "Basically, from the farthest points of the city, they can get there in 30 minutes."

The SRG is highly-selective. Of the hundreds of officers who apply, according to D'Adamo, two-thirds don't make it past the interview.

Reporter N.J. Burkett embeds with the NYPD Strategic Response Group

So why the SRG?

"The variety, the challenges," Torres said. "You never have a typical day."

"You go everywhere, you get a piece of everything," Conforti said. "You get to cover a lot of ground. We get extra training and it's fun to be switching roles...It's a new unit. We're breaking new ground, and I think it's very necessary in the times we're living in."

NJ Burkett behind the scenes with the SRG:

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