Tactical Unit

Our Tactical Unit responds to over 100 high risk incidents per year and are often the front line at the many embassies and consulates in Ottawa as well as the Ottawa Airport. Tactical Unit members are highly trained in explosives, hostage situations, negotiations, executing warrants, accessing barricaded persons, high-risk take-downs, remote surveillance, sniper tactics, and physical exercises such as rappelling from tall buildings.

Becoming a Tactical Unit member isn’t easy. It is a physically demanding job, which requires dedication, teamwork and a strong work ethic.

To join the Tactical Unit, internal applicants must achieve a score of 90% in the Ontario Police Fitness test. They must then pass a “job specific” physical test which incorporates a lot of the activities in which a Tactical member is expected to perform on a daily basis. Candidates who successfully complete the physical tests then proceed to an interview and those who successfully complete these three phases, attend a very demanding process known as ‘Selection Week’. Tactical Unit applicants who pass Selection Week must then also endure and pass a physically and mentally challenging 12-week Tactical Hostage Rescue Course.

We’re often asked ‘What’s the difference between Tactical and SWAT?’ For the Ottawa Police, the preferred terminology is ‘Tactical Unit’, however, SWAT (an American term which stands for Special Weapons and Tactics) is the same thing.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE)

In 1976, as a result of the Montreal Olympics, the Ottawa Police Service created what was known as the 'Bomb Squad'.  This squad grew to include eight members of the Tactical Unit who received training required to respond to today's reality of domestic and terrorist threats. 

In 2011, the Explosives Unit and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosives (CBRNE) Operations Section came together as an integrated unit, now known as the “CBRNE Operations Section”. These highly-trained members from both police services now work and deploy as one team to respond to various incidents ranging from suspicious packages and recovered explosives, to bomb threats and homemade explosive laboratories. 

Equipment and Vehicles

In 2010, the BearCat was the 1st armoured rescue vehicle in Canada, with enhanced protection for police during high risk operations. The BearCat has been used many times both operationally and in training. It is ideal for crisis intervention, especially with the growing number of incidents involving firearms which adds risk to our officers and the public.

Robots are also used for various tasks including the safe disposal of explosives, delivering a negotiator throw phone as well as food and beverages, and it is capable of surveillance. The Robot in this picture is the Remotec Andros F6A.