LITHIA, Fla. -- Only WINK News is on the front lines for Homeland Security Investigations training. Only a few media markets across the United States have been given the opportunity to take part in this training.
The agency's investigations special response teams are special agents who are tactfully trained in high risk and hazardous conditions. The specialized training took part in Lithia which is east of Tampa and south of Plant City. It's where WINK News got an exclusive, behind the scenes look of the Homeland Security Investigations teams that protect us.
After an overview and safety briefing, it was out to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office training center to take part in exclusive specialized training scenarios. Something the public or media has never had access to until now.
"A lot of people just don't know who we are so we figured after 23 years its time to finally come out of the shadows," said Kevin Power, special agent, Homeland Security Investigations.
Coming out of the shadows is the Homeland Security Investigations Special Response Team. Making WINK News an honorary member for one on one training for the day. The team undergoes intense exercises than includes realistic skilled situations like an officer down, arrest warrants at homes or shooting drills to protect the public.
One agent, who we'll call Special Agent X since he's undercover for safety, is based out of Fort Myers.
"We are trying to make a difference. We are out there to do our duty," said Special Agent X.
Preparing is what this team does best. They do dry runs before an operation ever happens, always keeping an eye on the prize.
"The thoughts that go through most of our minds are really to get the job done, as safe as possible and secure the residence," said Russell Ricalde, special agent.
Everyday, these men are in high risk and hazardous conditions. If it's the RNC, the Superbowl or simply providing backup, they're there, hiding and quietly protecting.
The team that is based out of Tampa has 23 special agents from all over the state, including southwest Florida and Fort Myers. Now these special agents, to keep their skills sharp, will train twice a month and also one additional week during the year.