In 1984, six Portage County Sheriff's Office deputies were appointed and formed the Special Weapons and Tactics Team (SWAT). This was in part to be able to assist nearby Shawano County and their dealings with the Posse Comitatus. But Portage County also determined that there was a need to be able to respond to high-risk incidents that would be beyond the capabilities of the normally equipped road deputies.
Since that time, the unit has evolved into the Special Response Team (SRT) that is currently comprised of 22 dedicated officers that includes operators (entry team members and snipers) and crisis negotiators. In order to become an operator on the team, officers must meet stringent physical fitness, problem solving, weapons proficiency, and peer review qualifications. Prospective negotiators are also subject to peer review qualifications. Once accepted to the SRT, entry level training is given to both operators and negotiators, which is then followed up by monthly team training, whereas techniques, weapons and equipment are constantly being utilized to assure each team member is operating at peak performance. Incidents such as high-risk warrant service, hostage situations, barricaded suspects, and dignitary protection are normally the types of call-outs that SRT responds to.