The Marion County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is a large department charged with protecting Indianapolis, Indiana, and it has a relatively small Sheriff’s Tactical Armed Response (STAR) team. But the agency is in the process of increasing the size of its STAR team, including very specialized positions within that team. It will continue to grow to keep pace with the enforcement demands within Marion County.
Until very recently, there was one sniper on the STAR team, Lt. Terence Smith, a 10-year veteran of the MCSO. In April 2013, a second sniper was added to the team, Cpl. Brian Kotarski, who has been with the MCSO for six years. Now the two-man team is working together to provide the county and their fellow officers the situational reconnaissance and precision shooting option they need. Indianapolis has largely been free from high-profile hostage and active-shooter situations, so for a city of this size, it is almost inevitable that such an incident will occur.
The role of snipers in Marion County has historically been handled by the Indianapolis Police Department, but recently the MCSO recognized that it needed its own sniper capability. Lt. Smith, who is an MCSO firearms instructor, was picked for this role after completing a sniper school on his own, outside of the standard SWAT school training. He took the training without knowing whether the MCSO would completely adopt a dedicated sniper for the tactical team. Shortly after that, Cpl. Kotarski underwent sniper training and was added to the team. In October 2013, the snipers attended advanced sniper training at Camp Atterbury.
One of the goals for the MCSO is to be proactive in its approach to potential threats within the county. The snipers on the STAR team see their role primarily as one of reconnaissance, and relaying valuable information to the rest of the team. The obvious secondary role is making a precision shot to end a threatening situation if necessary.
The snipers are awaiting the delivery of their new FN SPR A3W bolt-action rifles chambered in .308 Winchester. The MCSO recognizes the need for top-tier tools and implemented a plan to acquire them. Leupold Mark 4 LR/T 6.5-20x50mm scopes were chosen to rest on top of the FNs. The future looks good for the MCSO sniper team. They recognize the need for training and growth in order to stay on top of the ever-changing law enforcement landscape of Marion County.
To learn more about the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and its dedicated deputies, check out the March 2014 issue of Tactical Weapons, available on newsstands and digitally January 28, 2014.